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Osama bin Laden dead: LAX travelers take extra security in stride

May 02, 2011|By Chris Erskine | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
  • Travelers go through a security checkpoint at Terminal 4 at LAX.
Travelers go through a security checkpoint at Terminal 4 at LAX. (Danny Moloshok / Reuters )

If ignorance is bliss, newlyweds Matt and Melinda Duncan had it made as they boarded their flight from Melbourne to LAX. The Australians had no idea what was about to transpire across the world: the announcement that one of the most notorious fugitives in history had been found and killed.

As they waited for their ride Monday at the LAX Bradley Terminal, they heard the news.

"What? Really? We had no idea," Melinda said.

"No one said a thing," said Matt, as the couple began their honeymoon trip in L.A.

Although some other travelers were not so carefree, amid visibly tightened security after the killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, announced Sunday, there was a remarkable lack of angst at LAX on Monday.

Those arriving at the airport reported normal lines and waits at checkpoints from Toronto to Spokane. In fact, "business as usual" became the catch phrase.

Still, there was the feeling that what happened over the weekend was a turning point after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"It's been 10 years," said Reginald Lang, of Prime Time Shuttle, who has worked at LAX for five years. “I think people are elated. I think they’re more relieved than scared.”

Some voices of LAX travelers:

-- "I don’t think people were really any more jittery," said Kelts Beggs, who had just arrived from Toronto. "People were napping as usual."

Even customs checkpoints appeared to be largely unaffected amid fears of a possible terrorist backlash.

"I was surprised,” Beggs said. "I was waiting for more screening, some kind of activity going on."

-- "The only person who seemed worried was my mom," said Cathy Baron, traveling with her brother Stephen back from Austin.

* Kimberly Green, traveling with her son Matthew from Vancouver, said that they experienced no delays through customs here and that clearing the checkpoint in Vancouver took about 15 minutes, within what she said was the normal range there.

"It seemed fine," she said.

-- The TSA "did take my suitcase for a while," said Kathleen Staley of Torrance, whose day started in Spokane. "That was a little unusual. Otherwise, it was just as smooth as could be."

There was little doubt, however, that airport authorities wanted to establish a strong presence. Customs and airport police vehicles were bumper to bumper in Terminals 2 and 5, often outnumbering civilian vehicles. And there was an increase in foot patrols airport wide.

It was difficult to look in any direction Monday morning and not spot a law enforcement officer.

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