Airport closing reduces options

Students flying out of the area for class cancellations later this month should be prepared to deal with changes resulting from the closure of Ronald Reagan National Airport and heightened security measures at airports nationwide.

The Federal Aviation Administration has closed National Airport indefinitely because of its proximity to the Pentagon and other government buildings. There is no scheduled re-opening date for the airport, which services about 42,000 people every day.

Ticket-holders planning to fly out of National must contact their airline’s reservation hotline.

“They should call reservations, and we will do the best we can,” United Airlines spokesman Chris Brathwaite said. “They should be prepared for high security.”

Other airlines also offered options for passengers scheduled to travel in the aftermath of recent terrorist attacks. Airline procedures for accommodating passengers flying out of National vary, but all airports have begun strict security measures, a representative of US Airways said.

Delta Airlines spokeswoman Cindi Kurczewski said the FAA’s new 11-point airport security measures will require passengers to be at the airport two hours in advance, and curbside check-in is no longer allowed.

Family and friends will not be able to greet passengers when they arrive at their destination because only ticketed travelers are allowed beyond security checkpoints.

No cutting instruments of any size or made of any material are allowed on flights, including plastic knives.

The FAA is also planning to disperse armed federal air marshals on flights anonymously to monitor domestic flights around the nation.

With University housing now open during the class cancellations Sept. 27-Oct. 2, students may wish to get refunds. Many airlines said they are instituting temporary refund policies, which will fully reimburse students. United, Delta and US Airways have policies that are expiring before the cancellation dates, so students may be faced with having airline flight coupons for later use. Some students also said they chose to take the train instead of flying.

Students should note they can book flights at discounted prices in the future because of the expected decrease in airline customers.

United, Delta and US Airways are offering roundtrip flights from Washington Dulles to New York La Guardia for $118. US Airways is charging $168 for a roundtrip flight from Dulles to Logan Airport in Boston. Continental is offering flights from Dulles to Newark for as low as $119. All of these flights require at least seven days advance booking.
Many students said they are worried National will not open any time soon.

“Because planes have to fly so close to Capitol Hill, the White House and the Pentagon, the government will realize that the threat of another attack by plane is too great, and the airport will never open again,” freshman Kristin Loke said.

Junior Aaron Cohn said he hoped National will reopen.
“I always fly out of National,” he said. “I was planning on flying home on Thursday and later this year go home for the holidays, but I guess if it comes to safety or convenience I’ll choose safety.”

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