MOUNT VERNON — After President Barack Obama’s order to increase security for international flights coming into the United States, few planes bound for the United States over the weekend were leaving Europe on time. That included a flight from Paris with a Mount Vernon family on board.
“We were supposed to leave at 12:15 Central European Time,” said Corby Wise. “It was 2 o’clock before we boarded. That was an hour and 45 minutes of added security.”
Wise said flight passengers were called by group for individual security screenings. While he and his wife, Carrie, and their daughter, Eleanor, waited, they watched as the first groups were screened.
“People were putting their hands up in the air and were being patted down everywhere,” Wise said.
Wise said the pat-down was from head to toe; airport personnel also used metal-detecting wands to further check passengers for contraband.
“It was craziness,” Wise said. “They even had some passengers lift up their shirts.”
Even 6-year-old Eleanor was subject to the pat-down next to her parents.
Wise said the security delay added additional stress to many of the passengers, who realized they would miss connecting flights back in the states.
“It ruined everyone’s connecting flights,” he said. “People were crying, saying they were going to be a day late.”
Wise said he talked with security personnel who told him the security officer would have to frisk passengers on four flights that day.
“Any plane going into the United States was going to get that kind of treatment,” Wise said.
On board, Wise said it was announced that passengers were going to be very restricted during the last hour of the flight.
“It cast an air of suspicion all over the plane,” Wise said. “You could feel everyone looking around at each other.”
Toward the end of the nearly nine-hour flight, announcements were made reminding passengers the final hour of the flight would require everyone to remain seated and no pillows, blankets, electronics or anything in passenger laps would be permitted.
“They said ‘no ands, ifs or buts about it,’” Wise said.
Although in-flight entertainment was left on, flight attendants gathered headsets as a precaution.
Although Wise said he and other passengers understood the necessity for increased security, some measures seemed over the top, especially after the ease of travel from Columbus to Manchester, England, about 10 days earlier.
“When we left Columbus, it was regular security for a normal domestic flight,” Wise said. “You took your shoes off, belts, jewelry and put them in the bucket.”
A simple stroll through the metal detector and they were on their way, he said.