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Travelers 'more educated' since Sept. 11

Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, travelers could arrive at airports shortly before their flights, pass quickly through security, board their planes and settle in for their journeys.

Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, travelers could arrive at airports shortly before their flights, pass quickly through security, board their planes and settle in for their journeys.

Ten years later, travel has changed dramatically.

People are encouraged to arrive at airports early: at least an hour and a half before domestic flights and at least two and a half hours ahead of international trips.

"Getting to the airport earlier is one of the bigger changes," said Charity Speich, manager of Chippewa Valley Regional Airport. "You used to be able to get here just a few minutes before the flight and get right on the plane."

Speich recommends arriving at smaller airports such as CVRA at least 60 minutes before departure. "At larger airports, you have to get there even more than 60 minutes early because of parking (and) long security lines."

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Carry-on regulations imposed on travelers by the Transportation Security Administration are complicated.

"Security was much less invasive (before the attacks) ... because it was handled by private companies hired by the airlines versus the Transportation Security Administration handles the security now," Speich said.

The TSA website ( www.tsa.gov/travelers/index.shtm ) offers all the information travelers need to pack for flights. Liquids brought in carry-on luggage must adhere to the 3-1-1 rule: Only 3.4-ounce bottles carried in one quart-sized plastic bag per traveler.

The website includes detailed lists of what is and isn't acceptable for carry-ons, plus tips on how to dress: remove all metal body piercings and be prepared to remove shoes as well as belts and jewelry that contain metal while stepping through the screening technology.

While preparing for a flight is daunting, travelers understand the security measures, Speich said.

"I think that the response that we hear from people is that they understand the safety measures that are in place for their protection," she said, "and they would rather be safe than the alternative."

Despite the hoops travelers must jump through, people still are traveling, said Denise Petricka, co-owner of Higgins Travel Leaders in Eau Claire.

"People are more aware of where they're going, what they're doing and ... what's going on around them, but they're certainly still traveling," she said.

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More people are traveling in groups, which makes the experience more comfortable, Petricka said.

People also are more aware of what's happening in the places they're traveling to and are more aware of their surroundings while at their destinations, she added.

Petricka noted an increase in European river cruising and Alaskan cruises and tours, although travelers still are going to Mexico, the Caribbean and even Egypt and Israel.

"People do still want to travel; they're just more educated travelers," she said.

"(Tourism) hasn't changed because there's still a whole world of opportunity and travel and places to explore, and people are still doing that."

Kuether can be reached at 715-833-9203, 800-236-7077 or taylor. kuether@ecpc.com .

(c)2011 the Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wis.)

Visit the Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wis.) at www.leadertelegram.com

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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