Airport Security Forces Passengers To Arrive Earlier

Monday morning, a few passengers got to the airport about 30 minutes before their flights. They didn't make it on board.

Carlos Lozano wasn't going to let that happen. He showed up for his Air Tran flight two hours 35 minutes early. "I have my cell phone," he said. "I can do a lot of work while I'm sitting in the airport."

The Waveland man had plenty of company at the check-in counter. Peggy Suits got to the airport at 11:00 a.m. for her 1:35 p.m. flight "because I was requested to be here two hours early. So I'm just going to hang around I guess."

Because of Tuesday's hijackings, airport security is as tight as it's ever been. The Gulfport airport now has a spot at the ticket counter where airlines search checked baggage by hand. Carry on bags get x-rayed and hand searched by airport security at the passenger gate entrance. "They should," passenger Sandy Raines said. "They should have been doing it a lot more."

Outside the airport, cabs can no longer park near the terminal entrance doors. That curbside area is now off limits unless you're dropping somebody off or you drive an emergency vehicle. And one of the airport's parking lot entrances is temporarily closed until airport officials come up with a plan to reconfigure the parking lot. The FAA banned cars from parking within 300 feet of the terminal entrance.

Airport executive Ken Spirito said, "We've lost about 200 spaces in our parking lot and had to make temporary provisions in our parking lot to accommodate those vehicles."

Passengers know that the new security measures are set up to protect them from future terrorist attacks. "I've got the Lord in my hands," Suits said. "And I'm not worried at all."

For the time being, Northwest Airlines has canceled its late night arrival and its 6:20 a.m. departure from Gulfport. So far, those are the only flights this airport has temporarily lost in the wake of last Tuesday's tragedy.