CNN: U.S. House votes to allow airline pilots to carry guns in the cockpit. - U2 Feedback

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Old 07-10-2002, 04:46 PM   #1
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CNN: U.S. House votes to allow airline pilots to carry guns in the cockpit.

What do you think about this?
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Old 07-10-2002, 05:05 PM   #2
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Those pilots better know what to do with those guns...you wouldn't want a hijacker wresting that gun from a pilot, or causing it to discharge at a window, or something like that...
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Old 07-10-2002, 05:44 PM   #3
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Here's the story from CNN...


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Airline pilots could carry guns in the cockpit to defend their planes against terrorists under a bill the House passed overwhelmingly Wednesday despite the opposition of the White House.

The legislation, approved by a vote of 310-113, would allow guns for more than 70,000 pilots if they agreed to undergo training. Lawmakers stripped out provisions that would have limited the program to some 1,400 pilots, about 2 percent of those flying.

Despite the strong House support, prospects in the Senate were not good for the legislation. Besides the White House, those opposing it include Ernest Hollings, a South Carolina Democrat who heads the Senate Commerce Committee.

The guns-in-cockpits question is among a host of aviation security issues that arose after the September 11 terrorist attacks. In this case, House GOP leaders have been at odds with the administration, which has repeatedly argued that cockpit crews should focus on flying planes and let air marshals worry about security.

Though Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Transportation Committee agreed to arm only a fraction of the pilots, rank-and-file lawmakers voted to expand the program to any pilot who volunteers.

"If there is a credible threat that requires arming pilots, why would you restrict yourself?" said an amendment sponsor, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon. "Having that minuscule number of pilots trained and armed would not make any sense. If the pilots should be armed, there should be some significant number."

The measure also would require more self-defense training for flight attendants and give the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) 90 days to act on an airline's request to equip pilots and flight attendants with non-lethal weapons such as stun guns.

"Today, armed F-16s are prepared to shoot down any commercial jet that is hijacked by terrorists," said Transportation Committee chairman Don Young, R-Alaska. "It is imperative that under these new circumstances, we must allow trained and qualified pilots to serve as the last line of defense against such a potential disaster."

Opponents of the legislation have expressed concern that an errant bullet could kill a passenger or knock out a critical electrical system.

A flight attendants union also opposed arming pilots.

"Giving guns to pilots without specific cabin defense requirements for airlines could be deadly for flight attendants and passengers," Patricia Friend, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said last month.

TSA head John Magaw, who announced the administration's position against guns in cockpits, has said that a pilot should give undivided attention to flying his plane, landing it as quickly as possible and conducting in-flight maneuvers to keep hijackers off balance.

Rep. John Mica, chairman of the House aviation subcommittee, dismissed the administration's objections.

"Bureaucrats set the rules. We set the policy and the laws," said Mica, R-Florida.

Pilots' unions said their members needed the guns to prevent terrorists from breaking into cockpits and commandeering airplanes, as happened last September.

The Air Line Pilots Association has contributed $764,000 to federal candidates since Jan. 1, 2001. That's more in donations than was given to candidates by any individual airline, with 85 percent of the money going to Democrats, many of whom joined the majority House Republicans in supporting the legislation.

Before the vote, the Allied Pilots Association, which represents American Airlines pilots, urged its members to call lawmakers and ask them to increase the number of pilots who could carry guns.

In strengthening airline security following the attacks, lawmakers gave the decision to arm pilots to the TSA. After Magaw announced the administration's decision against guns in the cockpits, lawmakers in both houses introduced legislation to overturn that action.

Magaw said the presence of air marshals on board many flights and the use of reinforced cockpit doors provide sufficient protection against terrorists.

Although passage in the House had been predicted, the legislation faced difficult obstacles on the other side of the Capitol.

Congressional aides have suggested that the measure may be offered as an amendment to a bill providing money for the Transportation Department, because Hollings' opposition is enough under Senate rules to keep the armed-pilots bill from coming up for a vote.

"A freestanding bill is not the only way to pass something in the Senate," said Sen. Robert Smith, R-New Hampshire.

Copyright 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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Old 07-10-2002, 07:34 PM   #4
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As long as the pilots aren't drunk then I have no problem with it. A lot of major airline pilots came from the Air Force and have training with sidearms already, not to mention the training they would go through additionally.
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Old 07-10-2002, 08:04 PM   #5
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Guns in cockpits...bad idea. Pilots need to concentrate on flying the dang plane...not trying to be the next resident hero. This legislation is ill-advised and could potentially do more harm than good. Airline pilots are not law enforcement officials and I don't advocate them becoming one now.

El Al Air (Israel's Airline), which hasn't had a terrorist attack against it since 1979 or so doesn't have armed pilots in the cockpit...why should we? Instead of pushing through poorly thought out, window dressing legislation Congress should be more closely examining El Al's security structure and develop a model based on it...I mean, it has a proven track record. I want legislation that get's results...not that makes me feel "warm and fuzzy."

And by the way...what has become of those 80,000 Air Marshall applications???? Were they not supposed to be on every domestic commericial flight? They should be the ones (the only ones) with guns on the plane...just like El Al does it.

I'd have no problem if we armed our pilots with stun guns, however, as a last resort...but not firearms.
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Old 07-10-2002, 10:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Like someone to blame
Guns in cockpits...bad idea. Pilots need to concentrate on flying the dang plane...not trying to be the next resident hero.
true, but the planes practically fly themselves at times (cruising, not takeoff and landing) and there are 2-3 crew in the cockpit

Quote:
This legislation is ill-advised and could potentially do more harm than good. Airline pilots are not law enforcement officials and I don't advocate them becoming one now.
Maybe you missed the part in my post where I pointed out that many pilots are former Air Force pilots, which is a form of law enforcement.

We could always arm the stewardesses with guns

Quote:
El Al Air (Israel's Airline), which hasn't had a terrorist attack against it since 1979 or so doesn't have armed pilots in the cockpit...why should we?
not a very good point, I mean we don't have idiot suicide bombers blowing up our pizza parlors and buses (yet)

Quote:


And by the way...what has become of those 80,000 Air Marshall applications???? Were they not supposed to be on every domestic commericial flight? They should be the ones (the only ones) with guns on the plane...just like El Al does it.

I'd have no problem if we armed our pilots with stun guns, however, as a last resort...but not firearms.
Well I am not sure what is going on with the air marshalls, and that is a very good point. THe stun guns would help and i have no problem with them, but ultimately I would rather not have them replace actual guns but maybe in addition to armed pilots.
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Old 07-10-2002, 10:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Like someone to blame
Guns in cockpits...bad idea. Pilots need to concentrate on flying the dang plane...
Brilliant, and when Mohammed Atta al Fahir is Hijacking the plane, Busting into the Cockpit.. Yes.. "flying the dang plane..."

-No need to retort turning this into a 'Reinforced cockpit door' argument.

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Old 07-11-2002, 12:15 AM   #8
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Thats crazy, I hope they know what their doing. I can just see an air battle happening because terrorists and the pilots both have guns and both will be shooting if the other one does.
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Old 07-11-2002, 01:10 AM   #9
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Originally posted by Like someone to blame
El Al Air (Israel's Airline), which hasn't had a terrorist attack against it since 1979
after 9/11, that's all the media was talking about, how our airlines should be run more like el al air. and i don't really disagree. the only issue is that to do this would strip away close to all of our civil rights...which doesn't sit well with me, or really anyone.

we already have sky marshals on high risk flights. but this is what terrorism is...to scare us into being bigger idiots.
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Old 07-12-2002, 12:38 AM   #10
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Old 07-12-2002, 01:03 AM   #11
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Jessica Ann?.. I think.. I address this to the Guiltful Bleeding Heart who was trying to suck me into this idealistic perfect world when I was being lectured about Profiling.. Here I present to you.. a view that I did not write, published in a liberal periodical.. note the quote under the title.. taken from the Title Page.

Enjoy,

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Time Magazine:

The Nation's Best Run Airport — and Why It's Still Not Good Enough

"Too Much Time, Some Airport Officials Say, Is Spent on RANDOM SCREENING of Toddlers and Grandmothers instead of profiling."

As a shooting at LAX raises new security fears, TIME looks at how one airport, Denver International, is coping. No U.S. airport is better equipped to protect flyers. But that doesn't mean it has all the answers
BY RICHARD ZOGLIN AND SALLY B. DONNELLY/ DENVER
Sunday, Jul. 07, 2002
Bruce Baumgartner, manager of aviation at Denver International Airport, was at home July 4 when his pager went off. The airport's command center was calling with news of the shooting at Los Angeles International Airport. Baumgartner, a no-nonsense engineer who was once in charge of fusing and arming Minuteman missiles, snapped into action. First, he had to determine whether the incident was part of a coordinated attack that might directly affect Denver. Satisfied that it wasn't, he went on to assess whether it called for any fundamental rethinking of his airport's security. The short answer is no; even with 240 armed police officers assigned to the airport, along with scores of security people, preventing such random acts is all but impossible.

But the L.A. shooting rang other bells for Baumgartner. For months he has been wrangling with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the new federal agency in charge of the nation's air security, over the baggage-screening machines the TSA has ordered to be in operation at all 429 U.S. airports by the end of the year. Denver will ultimately need 50 of these bulky machines, which weigh 10,000 lbs. apiece and stand about five feet high, and the TSA wants them placed in the main terminal, next to the ticket counters. The mere thought of this makes Baumgartner's fleshy face turn red. The machines would take up space currently needed for passengers, he argues, and would add to the congestion—offering an even more inviting target for people like the L.A. shooter. Instead, Baumgartner wants the machines hidden away underground, amid the expanse of Disneyesque rail track that transports luggage from ticket counter to airplane. "I can have either machines or people in my terminal," says Baumgartner. "I can't fit both."

No one ever said running an airport is easy, but it became infinitely more complicated after Sept. 11. So did flying. The terrorist attacks robbed airports of their last vestiges of romance—the promise of adventure and freedom, a setting for emotional reunions and teary farewells. Over the years the flying public, in exchange for low fares and frequent service, has learned to put up with a lot—overcrowded hubs, vanishing airline meals and that great marketing coup of the late 20th century, the nonrefundable airline ticket. But after Sept. 11, all the old complaints about air travel were suddenly rendered moot. Airports are now high-stress zones where only two issues really matter: Is it safe to fly, and can it be made safe without turning air travel into such a debilitating ordeal that it's simply no longer worth the hassle?

To see how airports are coping with those challenges, a team of TIME reporters and photographers decided to take an in-depth look at one airport, Denver International. It's an airport that to a large extent has adapted nicely to the post-Sept. 11 world. The huge, snaking security lines that attracted so much attention in the weeks after last year's terrorist attacks have largely disappeared even as traffic has edged back to pre-9/11 levels. Last Wednesday, on the busy day before the July 4 holiday, 115,000 travelers passed through Denver International Airport, compared with 99,000 on an average day in 2001. Flyers got a holiday surprise or two—like a red-white-and-blue-festooned sign at the United Airlines ticket counter reading, Warning! Fireworks forbidden in your carry-on and checked luggage. Violators may pay large fines and/or serve up to five years in prison. But waits at the security checkpoints (six have just been added, bringing the total to a generous 20) were usually less than five minutes, and passengers seemed to be handling the preholiday stress well—even the infirm elderly woman who tripped a metal detector and had to laboriously remove her black orthopedic shoes for inspection and watch her purse being ransacked before she was carted off, exhausted, in her wheelchair.

Behind the scenes, however, Denver International is struggling with many of the same security issues facing all the other U.S. airports. The screening process for passengers (handled by two private security firms at Denver and supervised by the TSA) is cumbersome, arbitrary and questionably efficient. (In a TSA study of 32 airports, not including Denver, nearly one-quarter of all fake weapons carried by undercover TSA agents were not detected.) The fact that most checked luggage is still not being screened for explosives remains a glaring lapse, and there's a raging dispute over the machines the TSA has selected for the job. Plus, as the LAX shooting at an El Al check-in counter revealed, there are plenty of other places in an airport that are vulnerable to people intent on causing havoc.

The Nation's Best Run Airport — and Why It's Still Not Good Enough -- 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

What's more, the new federal agency that was supposed to help solve these problems is increasingly at odds with local airport authorities. Baumgartner and others criticize the TSA—run largely by Secret Service veterans with little aviation experience—for cluelessness, inflexibility and a bull-in-a-china-shop approach. "They may be fine folks at the TSA," says Baumgartner, "but they don't know anything about building an airport-security system or running an airport." William Pickle, a former Secret Service official who has just taken over as the TSA's top man in Denver, acknowledges the tensions. "The TSA is trying to be both a law-enforcement agency and a regulatory agency, and virtually everyone at TSA is new to aviation," he says. "It is an enormous task."

If you want to assess the state of airport security in America, Denver is a good place to start, for it is in many respects a role model. It is the newest big-city airport in the U.S. (it opened in February 1995) and by many measures the best run. Though it is the fifth busiest airport in the U.S., it has had the lowest rate of delays for four straight years. This is due partly to its five nonintersecting runways (a sixth is under construction) and equipment that makes Denver the only airport that can allow three simultaneous landings if needed. Despite well-publicized cost overruns and snafus with its baggage-handling system that delayed its opening, the airport now seems to have its financial house in order. A self-sufficient business using no city tax dollars, it had $44 million in surplus revenues last year (down from $76 million in 2000). It ranks near the top in most surveys of consumer satisfaction and has attracted six new carriers in the past year, providing fresh competition in a hub dominated by United Airlines.

Yet this exurban behemoth (larger than the city of Denver itself, it covers 53 sq. mi.), with its tentlike spires and cavernous, convention-hall interior, has its user-unfriendly quirks. Passengers who are dropped off at the airport by cab or rental-car van find themselves, for some odd reason, at the exit. To reach the ticket counter, they have to lug their bags up an escalator. The three gate concourses are connected by a train system that is fast and convenient—except when it's not working (which lately has not been very often and usually for only short periods). Unlike the terminals at Atlanta's Hartsfield, which has a similar layout, Denver's are so far apart—to give the planes more space to taxi—that passengers cannot walk between terminals even if they want to. This means that in the event of a major breakdown (like the seven-hour interruption in 1998 on what is now referred to as Black Sunday), passengers can be stranded.

Still, Denver is a more inviting place than most American airports to spend an hour or 12. After you have passed the ticket counters (centralized, helpfully, in two expansive rows on either side of the main terminal) and the two maps of America decorated with photos of oddball tourist attractions (such as the world's largest office chair, in Anniston, Ala.), you can stroll across a giant land bridge overlooking the snaking security lines. One Denver innovation has helped these lines move more quickly: express lines for passengers with only one carry-on item (a purse or small suitcase, but not both). Keith Hamlyn, a soccer-playing six-footer who travels to Florida two or three times a month for Lockheed Martin Astronautics, used to get to the airport two hours before his flight; in the past few weeks he has cut that to 90 minutes. "The first time I flew after Sept. 11, it took us 50 minutes to get through security," he says. "Lately I've been whipping right through."

The airport's command center, located on the 10th floor of a glass office building between the main terminal and the first gate concourse, offers an impressive display of state-of-the-art airport security. In the main room, a bank of 14 video monitors displays scenes from 825 cameras arrayed around the airport. Mitch Greenberg, a former paramedic, was the man in the hot seat one recent Sunday, scanning the screens and barking into a microphone to deal with each security infraction—such as a pilot's setting off an alarm at a secure door when his ID badge is misread. For major incidents—big weather problems as well as security breaches—the action shifts to the room next door, where a swat team of airport personnel are summoned around a circular conference table whose centerpiece pops up at the push of a button to give each participant a phone and computer. Denver's layout makes dealing with a security breach easier than at many airports: the train system is instantly shut down, isolating any passenger who has slipped by security (usually inadvertently) in one concourse rather than requiring the evacuation of the whole airport.

Baumgartner and his team know they have a pretty efficient system in Denver, and they aren't happy about their new federal overlords. First, there are the logistical headaches caused by the TSA's demand for 17,000 sq. ft. of office space at the airport to house what will eventually be a force of nearly 2,000 people in three rotating shifts. Baumgartner wants to charge the going rate of $72 per sq. ft.; the TSA complains that's too steep for a federal agency already stretched thin. "You can't just walk 2,000 people into an airport and put them somewhere," says Baumgartner. "You have to do a lot of work beforehand."

But the disputes have gone beyond such bureaucratic tussles. Take those baggage-screening machines. Baumgartner complains that the explosive-detection system (EDS) machines selected by the TSA are too finicky, slow and error prone. Last winter Baumgartner hired his own consultants to look into bag-screening technology, and they chose a device made by a German manufacturer, Heimann. The TSA's machine tests for density but can't tell for sure whether the suspicious mass is explosives or chocolate, whereas the Heimann machine uses a more sophisticated X-ray method that can make such distinctions by computer. The Heimann machine is capable of screening 1,000 bags an hour, compared with just 200 an hour for the EDS machine and, says Baumgartner, would cost $86 million, compared with $130 million for the TSA's system. But the TSA won't consider the Heimann machine because it has not yet been approved in the U.S. "I understand that Bruce wants to use the other technology," says Pickle, "but it has not passed the tests, and therefore it cannot be used right now."

Until there are enough EDS machines to handle all bags, the TSA wants to supplement them with smaller trace machines, microwave-size devices that can detect explosives by testing a cloth that has swabbed the luggage. But these devices have problems too. They require two to three times as much staff as the EDS machines, and security experts say they are highly unreliable unless used according to strict protocols. As TIME watched a Denver screener operate one of the trace machines, he had to punch it several times just to get it to register a clear signal.

Much of the problem, in the view of Baumgartner, is the rush to have some bag-screening system—any bag-screening system—in place by the congressionally mandated deadline of Dec. 31. He is one of 39 airport managers who sent a letter to the TSA on May 29 appealing for the deadline to be extended. The message may have finally got through to Congress; Representative Kay Granger, a Texas Republican, will introduce a bill this week that will give airports more flexibility in meeting bag-screening requirements and allow them to come up with individualized plans.

Bags that might be carrying bombs are just one security concern that Denver is dealing with. Another is the large number of people—fuelers, caterers, baggage handlers—who have access to planes on the airfield. Even before Sept. 11, Denver had a program called Always Challenge Everybody, which urged all airport employees to question unauthorized people in secure areas and report suspicious activities—and offered gifts from airport concessionaires and vouchers for airline tickets as a reward. Since Sept. 11, the airport has also beefed up its background checks, for the first time screening all employees, not just newly hired ones. The airlines have also tightened their background checks of employees, and so have airport vendors and subcontractors. McDonald's lost a number of workers who turned out to be illegal aliens, depleting its staff so quickly, according to airport sources, that one airport outlet had to be temporarily shut down. (McDonald's denies that it employed undocumented workers and says the closing was due to the voluntary departure of several employees.) Badges for people on the tarmac are checked constantly, and undercover agents occasionally walk about looking for suspicious sorts. But some question how useful all this scrutiny is. A private security guard checking IDs on a service road inside the airport seemed unsure which documents she was supposed to be examining and for what. "I keep getting conflicting reports," she said. "I don't know what I'm supposed to be looking for now."

The most visible sign of increased airport security since Sept. 11, of course, is the now familiar screening gauntlet that passengers must go through before entering the gate areas. The obsession, early on, with even the most innocent of personal items has been relaxed somewhat. A sign near the ticket counters in Denver informs flyers that nail clippers, tweezers and syringes—with proof of medical need—are now allowed after inspection. Yet plenty of verboten items—knives, screwdrivers, scissors—are still being confiscated. Since these items are not saved or returned to passengers, flyers in Denver started burying them in planters near the entrance to Concourse A, intending to pick them up after their return flight. The planters got so full that the airport had to remove them.

Passenger screening falls into two categories: the largely random screening that is done at security checkpoints (with extra attention paid to anyone who sets off the metal detector) and secondary screening at ticket counters and gates, where random checks are combined with special searches of passengers singled out by computer. The criteria for targeting these passengers, kept secret for security reasons, include such things as buying a one-way ticket and paying with cash. Although profiling by race or ethnic background is officially rejected, it is clear that, informally at least, some profiling is being done. One afternoon at Denver, a German couple about to board a flight to Las Vegas were fuming over having their bags searched for the second time in 20 minutes. "If we treated Americans traveling in Germany like this," griped the man, "it would be discrimination." Though the airport's two security firms declined to comment, a screener who spoke to TIME on condition of anonymity confided, "For me, profiling is the only way to be conscientious in doing the job. I make decisions based on who I wouldn't like to be seated next to on an airplane. If someone is unkempt and nervous or if they look like they belong on a bus instead of a plane, if they wear a baseball cap backwards and, without question, if they look to be foreign or of Middle Eastern descent." And African Americans? No, he says, that would be discrimination.

Baumgartner and other Denver officials argue that more profiling needs to be done, not less. With limited resources, they contend, too much time is wasted on random screening of toddlers and grandmothers, and too much emphasis is put on the objects people carry rather than on the people carrying them. They want more information about passengers put into the airlines' computer data bank, information that would enable veteran flyers with clean records to escape the shakedowns and allow more scrutiny of those who may pose a risk. As Baumgartner puts it, "Aunt Mildred is not the problem."

The Aunt Mildreds, however, seem to be handling these screening hassles with surprising good grace—accepting and even welcoming them as a way of doing their bit in the war against terror. "I'm a little anxious," said Kathy Taggart as she prepared to board a flight to Houston with Samantha, 18 months. "It's my first flight since 9/11. But I'd rather go through this than end up with terrorists on the plane." Cyrus Daruwalla, an accountant from Malaysia, had been selected for screening at every stop on his two-week trip through the U.S. Still, he said, "I don't feel victimized. I know the threat perception is greater for foreigners. The screening procedures don't really bother me."

MORE>>

Indeed, when passengers lose their cool in the airport today, it's more likely because of scheduling snafus and missed flights than overaggressive security. As the lines have grown shorter, passengers are getting to the airport later—and sometimes running afoul of stricter check-in rules. Though United Airlines has reduced its recommended arrival time from two hours before departure to 90 minutes, signs greeting passengers at its ticket counter in Denver announce a one-hour cutoff time for check-in. That means passengers who arrive with their bags even 55 minutes before departure will be told they are too late and have to rebook on a later flight. (Other airlines, such as Delta, post the same one-hour cutoff but are more forgiving, allowing check-in as close as 30 minutes before departure.)

United officials say the full hour is needed to ensure that passengers get to their gate on time; if they are not onboard by 10 minutes before the departure time, the airline must remove their bags, thus delaying the flight. That is cold comfort to Jennifer and Greg, a young couple in jeans with two small children, who were rushed to the front of the check-in line 50 minutes before their flight to Boston, only to be told they had missed the deadline. After arguing fruitlessly with a ticket agent, Jennifer slammed her coat into a stroller and spewed an obscenity. The toddler in her arms burst into tears. The couple glumly booked another flight and settled in for a four-hour wait, complaining that no one at United had warned them in advance of the one-hour cutoff time. (Nor was anyone likely to tell them the wait at security at that time was only a few minutes, meaning that if United had allowed them to check in, they almost certainly would have made their flight with time to spare.)

Well, it's not quite like the old days, when things were so easygoing that Denver teenagers could drive to the edge of Stapleton Airport and neck in their cars by the runway. But passenger outbursts are one sign that airport life is creeping back to normal. "Soon after 9/11, passengers were beautiful about the inconveniences," says United gate agent Rick Gisi, "but now it's back to thinking about me and I."

One person who would like to get back to thinking more about me and I is Baumgartner. Denver's airport chief is hoping to get through the busy summer travel season without any major crises—and is looking forward to a long-delayed vacation this fall. Last year, just after Sept. 11, he had to bow out of a trip to the Grand Tetons, and his wife wound up going by herself. This year Baumgartner, an outdoors lover and former town manager of Crested Butte, Colo., has vowed to go to the Tetons with her. He wants to do some fishing. Best of all, he's going to drive.

—With reporting by Wendy Cole and Rita Healy/Denver
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