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Stepped-up security screening at airports in the wake of foiled terrorism plots has provoked an outcry from airline pilots and travelers, including parents of children who say they are too intrusive.
Industry officials, travelers and pilots have complained bitterly to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) about new full-body scanners and more rigorous patdown checks begun recent weeks.
Security officials have defended the measures as necessary after foiled plots by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has tried to hide bombs in clothing and parcels that have made it aboard a U.S. passenger airliner and two cargo planes.
With the busiest holiday travel season nearing, fliers face long security lines and new rigorous patdown checks aimed at discovering hidden explosives. As a result, some travelers are questioning whether to fly at all.
Most would agree that the days of stress-free air travel are over. As the airline industry grapples with unprecedented oil prices that have almost doubled in the past year, carriers are now eking out profits any way they can, including adding fuel surcharges, cutting back services and eliminating flights.
The moves have left passengers complaining about cramped, crowded and frequently delayed flights, and worse.
President Bush is urging Congress to end a decades-old ban on offshore oil drilling in response to consumer anxiety over record-high gas prices.
“Every American who drives to work, purchases food or ships a product has felt the effect. And families across our country are looking to Washington for a response,” Bush said.
Americans in dire need of a break are canceling their vacation plans — from air travel to road trips — because of soaring fuel prices.
About 100,000 passengers have been affected after American Airlines canceled over 1,000 flights. Travelers will endure more pain as the airline says it expects over 900 more cancellations on Thursday. Watch this video on the travel chaos.