Security tightened at Oakland Airport

By Gina Comparini Special to the Daily Planet
Friday September 28, 2001

At Oakland International Airport, the most common phrase used by one curb security supervisor is “no more.” No more curbside check-in. No more passengers taking their time to bid goodbye to loved ones who drop them off outside terminals. 

“They have to take care of all that on the way,” said curb security supervisor Marlon Condoll. “A car can’t sit at the curb in front of a terminal for more than one minute.” 

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the East Coast, changes along the perimeter of Oakland Airport could mean hassles and delays for passengers.  

Airlines are no longer offering curbside check-in, once considered a convenience for passengers. Instead, employees are working inside the airport to help passengers with their luggage, according to Whitney Brewer, a spokesperson for Texas-based Southwest Airlines. Federal Aviation Administration workers walk the airport making sure searches of shuttles and taxis parked outside terminals are being carried out, Condoll said. 

“It makes some customers leery, when they see me checking under a cab with a mirror,” Condoll said. “But it’s for their safety.” 

Companies that staff the airport are hiring more workers to accommodate security measures, and police officers are on hand to assist security workers, said Lester Patilla, a superintendent with the Port of Oakland, which manages the airport. The FAA must give approval before curbside check-in can resume, he said. 

Inside the airport, passengers must be prepared to have their carry-on baggage physically searched at security checkpoints, and random searches could occur at gates, Condoll said. Only passengers holding a ticket will be permitted to enter a security checkpoint, so passengers who purchase tickets electronically should contact airlines in advance, an FAA advisory warned. 

Keith Douglas, who works in Emeryville and flies frequently, said flying out of Oakland had posed no problems, and his only delay came when he decided to upgrade to first class at the last minute. Security measures at the airport following the Sept. 11 attacks are similar to those put in place during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, he said. 

“There was no curbside check-in back then, either,” Douglas said.