Reporter's Notebook:New Rules, Effective Immediately

Julie Banderas
Julie's report on new airline safety measures

At 1:45 a.m. the phone rings.

I thought it was a prank call, since my phone doesn't typically ring in the middle of the night. I answer it once I realize the person on the other line isn't a prankster — it's the Northeast bureau chief, Refet Kaplan, calling to inform me of the biggest terror threat on the U.S. since 9/11 and our plan to cover it. This was no prank, it was the "real deal."

As a reporter in Manhattan since the World Trade Center attacks, you mentally prepare yourself for this sort of thing, knowing someday you could get "the call" all reporters, and New Yorkers for that matter, most dread.

Thank God this terror attack was foiled. Nonetheless, it turned out to be an incredible day of unprecedented security restrictions.

We would begin our coverage at 6 a.m. at John F. Kennedy International Airport. When we got there at 5 a.m., we found exactly what you would expect — long lines filled with confused travelers, most of which had no idea what was happening and why we were there. One man approached us after noticing our camera to ask what celebrity was scheduled to arrive at JFK to warrant all the attention?

Our attention was all on one thing, but it wasn't a celebrity. International media from around the world was staked outside the British Airways terminal, now lined with signs that read, "NO LIQUIDS." That meant no liquids or gels allowed in carry-on bags — no drinks, toothpaste, perfume, shampoo, hair gel, or suntan lotion on all domestic flights.

Anyone flying to the UK had to fly even lighter — no handheld bags, laptops, mobile phones or iPods allowed. Why? Security experts later explained that the next terrorist attack could be carried out by airline passengers who hide bomb ingredients in hair gel or baby bottles and then assemble their weapon in a locked restroom. So, with the exception of baby formula and prescription medicine, this "new" normal became the norm by afternoon throughout airports all over the country.

Adding to the chaos, and perhaps the most alarming warning, was that experts say security staff at airports were not looking for the right things, and that the change in security measures could overwhelm security operations.

Today should teach us all a lesson: terrorists are not stupid, but we can outsmart them.

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Julie Banderas joined the network in 2005 and currently serves as a New York-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC).