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Many taking cars instead of airplanes this holiday

By Catholic Online
November 19th, 2010
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Passenger complaints of intrusive security measures at airports, as well as a general lack of customer service sees many holiday travelers opting to just take or rent a car to visit their loved ones this Thanksgiving holiday.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Travel experts say that many will hit the road in spite of high gasoline prices, $3.05 on average for a gallon of unleaded fuel in Illinois. Next week, 94 percent of Thanksgiving travelers nationally are expected to drive - up from 86 percent in 2008 and 80 percent in 2000, according surveys conducted by AAA.

The air-travel share is projected at 3.8 percent this Thanksgiving, the lowest figure in a decade. Air travel accounted for 13 percent of Thanksgiving travel in 2000, AAA said.

Experts say that whether you plan to drive or fly, planning will go a long way. Those driving should conduct a pre-trip vehicle safety inspection and check for highway routes free of heavy construction.

In addition, air travelers should transport only essential items to aid navigation through airport security checkpoints and take direct flights that depart early in the day to avoid the worst congestion.

Remember the weather, which remains the "wild card" as it is every year. There is a new wild card: Will significant numbers of people boycott new airline passenger screening devices, as opponents of the full-body scanners are urging next week to protest what they call a "naked scan?" If so, the security lines might bog down, leading to missed fights and delays.

The Transportation Security Administration is using hundreds of the scanners on a widespread basis for the first time this holiday season as the primary method to screen passenger's at most major airports.

In addition, the security agency has also implemented new, tougher pat-down procedures for travelers who opt out of the body scanners, or to resolve discrepancies found during initial screening.

Lawrence Schmidt, who took 70 to 90 flights annually when he lived in Evanston for 23 years, switched jobs and moved out West last fall to reduce the amount of flying he does.

"The current security process doesn't significantly reduce risk, it causes a huge loss of man-hours and it creates a false sense of security," disgruntled traveler Lawrence Schmidt said. "Alfred Hitchcock reportedly said all actors are cattle. Apparently, the TSA feels that concept applies to paying passengers."

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