- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Travelers and employees at local airports yesterday treated the upcoming anniversary of the September 11 attacks as just another business day even as the federal government raised the threat level for another terrorist attack.
"I do feel safe," said Lottie Mae McDonald, a sales clerk at the Noyo Design Store at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. "Here, they're very alert."
Meanwhile, the Office of Homeland Security raised the threat level from yellow to orange, the second-highest warning level. It was the first time the threat level has been raised since the Bush administration created the five-color warning system in March.
Some airlines, particularly foreign airlines, were cutting back scheduled flights for today. Two F-16 fighter jets escorted an Egyptian-registered jet to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in North Carolina yesterday because its crew did not provide authorities with adequate flight information.
"I do hope instead of war, we have more peace, love and unity," Mrs. McDonald said. "That's the only way we're going to survive as a country and as a world."
Federal Aviation Administration flight restrictions will limit air traffic over Washington, New York and Shanksville, Pa., today during ceremonies to commemorate the flights hijacked by terrorists one year ago.
At Reagan, Washington Dulles International and Baltimore-Washington International airports, officials will announce over the loudspeakers a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the exact minute one year ago the first hijacked airplane struck the World Trade Center. At BWI, all employees and passengers will be given commemorative ribbons.
However, airport officials are keeping security arrangements secret.
"That's really not something we're going to discuss," said Tom Sullivan, spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. "Clearly, we're going to try to get on with business as usual tomorrow."
John White, spokesman for BWI, said no security changes were planned. The airport already operates at a high security level, he said.
As he walked near the entrance to a BWI terminal, Mr. White said the airport was only slightly less busy than normal. He expected smaller crowds today.
"It's logical to assume some airlines may reduce flight schedules," he said.
The Transportation Security Administration also refused to discuss security precautions other than to say all its air marshals would be flying.
Airport bookings remain about 8.3 percent below levels last year, according to the Air Transport Association, a trade group for major airlines. A slightly greater slump is occurring this week.
The raised threat level announced yesterday follows an FBI warning last week to government agencies and private industries about "a large volume of threats of undetermined reliability."
Airline travelers seemed undeterred.
"I'm certainly aware of the awkwardness of traveling on the anniversary, but I didn't want to let that get in the way of business as usual," said Ross Brennan, an Environmental Protection Agency policy analyst. "Overall, I feel very safe."
Brian Suarez, a St. Louis college professor, said the colleagues he was consulting at the National Institutes of Health changed his travel date from September 11 to yesterday.
"I guess they were concerned about safety," Mr. Suarez said.
Mr. Suarez described the added security checks as "bothersome," but expected under the circumstances. He also doubted hijackers would be successful in taking over another airplane.
"They're not going to get through after Flight 93," Mr. Suarez said. "The passengers won't let them."
Some passengers said they were looking forward to flying today because bookings were low.
Robert Fazekas, a National Institutes of Health employee flying back to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., today, said he looked forward to the possibility of a half-empty plane.
"Maybe things will be dead, and that's OK with me because I'll have more room," he said.
Mr. Fazekas flew into BWI on an American Airlines flight with many empty seats. The same flight two months ago was filled, he said.
Drew Curtis, a Web-site manager from Lexington, Ky., doubted the effectiveness of putting a heavy emphasis on guarding airlines and airports.
"I don't think it can be effective," Mr. Curtis said. "There are too many variables involved. It will be something completely different the next time."
U.S. citizen Elizabeth Czarick and her Argentine husband, Eduardo Pereiro, are spending much of the anniversary day flying from JFK airport in New York to Buenos Aires after sightseeing in Washington.
"We talked with state officials in the U.S. and we have no fear of flying home," Mrs. Czarick said. "Terrorists cannot change lives like they aimed to do last year, and we are going to continue doing what we would normally do and, hopefully, honor the fallen in that sense."

Marguerite Higgins contributed to this report.

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