July 3, 2007 — -- Days after terrorist scares in London and Glasgow, airline passengers noted an increase in security efforts around the United States, while airport officials pleaded for calm, emphasizing added patrols and random police checkpoints.
Passengers at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., said they had noticed greater airport security.
Philip Blumenthal, who stopped at New York's Kennedy airport on his way back from Israel, said he was taken aback upon his arrival at JFK.
"It seemed that there was kind of a military police presence. There were what appeared to be military officers with guns," Blumenthal said. "It was a little more than I'm used to seeing in a U.S. airport."
Charles Grier said he was similarly surprised when he arrived at an airport Monday morning.
"I saw more police out at the Orlando airport," said Grier. "I saw about four police cars in the terminal when you arrived, and it then looked like there were more police officers out in the terminal itself."
John Lenihan, Dulles' federal security director with the Transportation Security Administration, acknowledged that the security presence at his airport had been increased but also asked for passengers' help in keeping an eye out for suspicious activity.
"It's the vigilant public, it's law enforcement, it's TSA adding a presence … curbside, which we've done in a random unpredictable way here at Dulles," Lenihan said. "It's more eyes, it's more ears on the scene — just like you saw in London, just like you saw in Glasgow. Somebody had to see that activity going on."
"The earlier we can get on that and involve law enforcement, the more safe and the more secure we're all going to be," he said.
Lenihan said Dulles was doing "a variety of things" in response to the attempted terrorist attacks in Britain, including an increased law enforcement presence conducting "random and unpredictable" vehicle checks.
Because of the added security, especially during the busy Fourth of July holiday, passengers should expect longer wait times, but Lenihan asked for their patience.
"We're asking the traveling public to come early and pay attention to the rules," Lenihan said. "Just like what happened in London and Glasgow, be vigilant, be alert, report suspicious activity that you see and keep your patience cap on. We're all trying to help you get through as expeditiously as possible."
However, not all passengers were satisfied with the increased security.
"I think it's good that they do all the security they do with all the terrorist attacks, but I was kind of surprised that they didn't do more," said Jaria Richardson, who had just arrived from Cincinnati. "I wish they would have done a little bit more."
Above all else, said Lenihan, passengers should remember that it's safe to travel at such a terror-ridden time. "We're pleading with the public to stay with us. Continue your plans. Travel is safe."