Water, makeup, liquor land in JIA trash bins

By Timothy J. Gibbons
Published by Florida Times-Union on August 11, 2006.

Mark Adams hauled away his first load of the day around 8:45 a.m.

Inside the rolling red trash receptacle, black plastic garbage bags. Inside the bags, liquid-filled containers: Evian. Clinique. Jim Beam.

All day long, Adams and his co-workers - employees at Jacksonville International Airport - emptied out garbage containers set up near the entrance to the airport's security checkpoint where, in light of arrests in England, the Transportation Security Administration was making sure no one got through carrying any liquid.

"It's going pretty good," Adams said, maneuvering the cart through the airport lobby, barely slowing as he turned around slightly bewildered-looking passengers. "Some of the bags get heavy."

The garbage bags started filling up early Thursday morning as the first passengers were unexpectedly confronted with the ban. Into the pails went pots of makeup, containers of gel deodorant, tubes of toothpaste: anything, the TSA said, that was "liquid or gel or of similar consistency."

Eleven Dumpsters worth of trash. One hundred twenty garbage bags. Bottled water and contact lens solution were among the most common items dumped, along with a fair amount of makeup and booze.

Some travelers ended up giving away their stuff, to friends or strangers, while others used up what they could.

"I'm not throwing it all away," said Deborah Boiler, who was applying dabs of lotion to her hands before throwing away the now-empty bottle.

"I heard about it but didn't think I would have to get rid of everything."

Some passengers headed back to the ticket counters to check bags that they had hoped to carry aboard.

"I had three prescription medicines that were not in the original bottles," said Sharon Moore, who was working with a fellow traveler to get all their allowed stuff in one bag before checking the rest. "If that gets lost, I'm in trouble."

The airport saw a "negligible" number of extra bags checked Thursday - but with about 8,000 to 10,000 travelers carrying about 6,500 bags, a couple hundred more probably wouldn't be noticed.

However, baggage handlers said more of the luggage they saw were small bags, said airport spokesman Michael Stewart, implying that passengers had checked bags they'd planned on carrying on. The number of checked bags isn't expected to rise greatly, as travelers used to using carry-ons will simply divest themselves of the banned items rather than suffer through waiting at baggage claim.

Early Thursday morning, lines stretched back into the terminal at JIA, as passengers and workers alike struggled with the unfamiliar rules.

Ed Goodwin, TSA's federal security director for Jacksonville, had been told late Wednesday night of the British arrests that led to the heightening of the security level.

"The early morning push was tough," said Goodwin, who hadn't slept overnight as he prepared for Thursday. "People hadn't seen the news. They were surprised and upset."

Airport personnel were alerted to the security change in Thursday's wee hours and began making plans to increase staffing.

As the morning progressed and passengers heard the news, more of the travelers coming to JIA were prepared for the additional security, while Jacksonville Aviation Authority workers and Transportation Security Administration officials prepared as well, setting up tables and reconfigured lines into the security checkpoint to help the process flow more smoothly.

Still, many passengers had to pause before entering the checkpoints to divest themselves of everything from bottled water to hand lotion to whiskey.

"It's the first time I've had to can everything," said the man - who declined to give his name - ditching the bottle of Beam. "I'll have to make it up on the expense report."

Things should get a bit smoother going into the weekend, JIA and TSA officials said, as fliers abandon liquids the way they did nail clippers when those were banned.

Some travelers were already at that stage Thursday: "We purposely didn't bring anything with us," said Carol Mullan, entering security with just a small, almost-empty pocketbook. "And we made sure we got here extra early."


This is a showcase of the work done by Timothy J. Gibbons during a journalism career now stretching back more than a decade.

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