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Sep 27, 2001

Body and bag searches routine at P.G.I.A.

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Three weeks after the terrorist attacks in the United States, airport security officers all over the world continues to impose stringent security checks. In Belize, it’s the same story. The question now is whether these extra regulations will be replaced by complacency in the future. News 5 took a trip to Ladyville today to find some answers.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting

It seems the days of simply answering a few routine questions about the contents of your bag, sauntering through the metal detector and meandering up the steps to your plane are gone for good. Since the attacks on September eleventh, security has never been tighter at Phillip Goldson International Airport. It begins at the doors of the main terminal, where every bag is thoroughly searched and every person scanned…And we do mean everyone…even airline pilots are not beyond scrutiny.

Lines are long and standing outside waiting to be searched is anything but fun. However, security personnel are making sure they stick to the rules.

Many passengers have had numerous items taken away from them ranging from tweezers and nail clippers to hair and deodorant sprays. Chief Security Officer Louis Escobar advises passengers, as well as welcoming and send-off committees, to empty their purses and pockets at home, to avoid a long time in the line.

Louis Escobar, Chief Security Officer, P.G.I.A.

” Take out all pointed or edged objects. And this even includes nail files and nail clippers and we’re not even talking about weapons and explosives. Of course these are items that is prohibited to come into the airport terminal building.”

The overall goal of the new procedure is to restore confidence in air travel. But of course, implementation has brought a few problems.

Louis Escobar

“We are in the process of trying to improve the system and just today we will have a meeting and we will discuss all the measures which we have implemented since the incident. Hopefully, by today we will have a better system, so that the people could get through the airport as quick as possible.”

Due to the increased security, passengers are being asked to check in three hours prior to their flights. However, some people are still operating on “Belize time”.

Vallan Lord, Security Officer, P.G.I.A.

“Some people find themselves coming in, maybe only one hour before and they come in with a rush and want to hurry rush through the luggage, “we don’t have this, we don’t have that.” With the Americans, we don’t have any problems. Some Belizeans we don’t have many problems, but with some Belizeans, they just can’t get used to the system.”

Janelle Chanona

“But for today at least, most passengers allowed plenty of time to clear security. Like it or not, these security measures are now part of the new reality for air travel, even in Belize. Reporting from the Phillip Goldson International Airport, I am Janelle Chanona for News 5.

If you are uncertain about whether a particular item you wish to take on the plane will be confiscated at the airport, please contact airport security at 025-2045.

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