COLUMBIA — The manager of Columbia Regional Airport is anticipating a rush of holiday travel but expects passengers will have no major problems with security protocols.
Airport Manager Andrew Schneider said he's expecting high turnout for holiday travel in Columbia.
“I suspect it will be a busy traveling season,” Schneider said. “Our numbers are way up, and people are still traveling.”
Schneider estimated more than 3,000 people will fly out of Columbia this month, and he said the total for the year should be 36,000 to 37,000.
News coverage of holiday travel this year has focused largely on the Transportation Security Administration's new policies and scanners. Schneider acknowledged there has been a lot of anger toward the TSA's new policies.
“TSA is kind of getting a bad rap because of the new scanning technology and the pat downs,” Schneider said. “Here they’re courteous, and the line goes pretty fast.”
Schneider said there have been few complaints and no major incidents involving passengers and TSA at Columbia Regional Airport.
“We don’t have the scanning technology now, so you’re not going to run into it here,” Schneider said. “Will it be coming? I don’t know. That is really TSA’s thing.”
TSA's new scanners and pat downs have stirred controversy amid complaints that the measures are overly invasive. TSA put out a statement on Nov. 21 reminding passengers that the new policies are intended to ensure safe travel.
Schneider blames the media for the public backlash against TSA.
“I think they kind of inflated it,” Schneider said. “I’ve never talked to somebody that was violated by TSA. That to me is a rarity, if ever.”
TSA at the airport deferred comment to their headquarters, which did not respond to requests for information.
Amy Rapp, who was at the airport last week and has been traveling across the country looking at medical residency programs, is indifferent about the new body scanners.
“I got scanned with the new scanners in San Antonio,” Rapp said. “They were fast … it just scans you. You don’t really know what’s going on.”
Still, Rapp said, she'd prefer not to be scanned again.
Schneider said passengers don't consider TSA when deciding whether to fly.
“The first three things that people look at when you go to book your ticket are: What is the price? What is the price? And what is the price?” Schneider said. “That is standard because more people are price conscious.”
Overall, Schneider believes if you prepare for flights, security won’t be a problem.
“If you do a little bit of homework before you fly and make sure you’re ready, it makes things a lot easier."