- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 9, 2001

Air Force fighters were sent to escort an American Airlines jetliner yesterday after a passenger tried to enter the cockpit of the plane, federal officials said.
The incident occurred the same day the Federal Aviation Administration issued new rules allowing no more than one carry-on bag and one personal item for airline passengers nationwide. The jittery nerves and added security restrictions follow the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan and warnings of terrorist revenge.
Preliminary reports indicated it was not an attempted hijacking, said FAA spokeswoman Marcia Adams.
No one was injured, she said. The jetliner landed without incident at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.
A young adult, described later by his father as having a history of mental illness, was subdued aboard Flight 1238 from Los Angeles to Chicago after trying to get into the cockpit, said FBI spokesman Ross Rice.
"The male individual was physically restrained by other passengers," American spokesman Al Becker said. "This appears to be an isolated incident."
The captain of the Boeing 767, which was carrying a crew of nine and 153 passengers, declared an emergency. The F-16s were then dispatched to escort the plane, Chicago Aviation Department spokeswoman Monique Bond.
Although long lines at airport checkpoints on Columbus Day bore witness to the heightened security, ridership seems to be inching upward to levels not seen since before Sept. 11, airport officials said.
"It's a busy holiday," said Melanie Miller, spokesman for the Maryland Aviation Administration, which manages Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
"A lot of people are taking advantage of the cheap fares," she said. "Our parking lots are filled."
More exact figures on the number of airline passengers yesterday were unavailable because of the holiday. Airlines are trying to regain passengers frightened away by the Sept. 11 attacks by dropping fares to unusually low rates.
By Oct. 1, airlines in the United States were flying an average of 68 percent full, compared with 70 percent full a year earlier, according to the Air Transport Association.
The new FAA limit of one carry-on bag and one personal item, such as a purse or briefcase, extends a restriction that began when Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport reopened Oct. 4. No passenger was allowed more than one carry-on bag on all flights leaving the airport, which now has the toughest security of any airport in the nation because of its nearness to the Capitol, the White House and other key government buildings.
Previously, passengers could bring two carry-on bags onto airliners.
Even before the FAA announcement yesterday, United Airlines and Frontier Airlines were the first to limit passengers to one carry-on bag and one personal item.
"There are security concerns I don't want to discuss," said United spokesman Joe Hopkins.
The rule could be a mixed blessing for passengers who airlines now tell to arrive two hours before their flights to be screened by security personnel. "Perhaps it can move them a little faster if there are fewer items to be screened," Mr. Hopkins said.
Airline employees said they are not surprised by the new FAA rule.
"It could change day by day," an American Airlines ticket agent at BWI said.
Passengers at BWI forced to wait in lines that stretched as long as 50 feet behind security checkpoints seemed tolerant, although sometimes frustrated.
Robert Frodeman, a professor from the Colorado School of Mines, said the new limit of one carry-on bag was an insignificant issue.
"It's understandable," Mr. Frodeman said. "We're kind of on a war footing."
He was returning to Boulder, Colo., on Frontier Airlines following a conference on environmental philosophy at Goucher College in Towson. Some of the scheduled speakers did not show up.
"A couple people canceled because they were afraid to fly," he said.
Other passengers had similar stories prompted by security concerns following the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the United States.
"They took away my tweezers," said Allison Ferreri, an 18-year-old soccer player from Fort Lauderdale. Her team, Team Boca, was returning home to Florida from an amateur soccer match at the Germantown Sports Complex during the weekend.
She referred to an FAA policy of taking away any sharp object from passengers that could be used as a weapon. In addition to her tweezers, screeners at a BWI checkpoint also took away her nail clippers.
The team arrived at BWI at 2 p.m. for a 5 p.m. return flight on Southwest Airlines.
"Because of everything going on, we figured we'd get here early," Miss Ferreri said.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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