LOS ANGELES – Airlines scrambled to recruit more baggage handlers Friday as U.S. travelers quickly adapted to new security measures by simply checking luggage they normally would have carried with them.
Passengers also faced a second level of security checks starting Friday, with random bag searches at the airline gates.
Unlike Thursday, when travelers unaware of the just-established rules filled trash cans at security checkpoints with now-banned bottles of makeup, perfume and suntan lotion, passengers on Friday had already packed those items in their checked luggage instead. As a result, security checkpoint lines that had stranded people for hours on Thursday were moving normally at most airports Friday.
"The overhead bins have never been that empty, ever," Kim Dickerson, 40, said after she arrived at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport from New York. "Normally people are trying to shove and push things around, I tell you, half the bins weren't even occupied."
Los Angeles International Airport reported a 30 to 50 percent increase in checked luggage, a jump that required airlines to recruit additional bag handlers, said Paul Haney, spokesman for Los Angeles World Airports. To handle the random bag checks at airport gates, about 200 unarmed National Guard troops were on duty.
"This time yesterday we were collecting hourly all kinds of liquids and gels. Obviously, the word has gotten out not to pack that," Haney said. "It's looking very much like a normal Friday in August."
Operations at Chicago's O'Hare, the nation's busiest airport, were also back to normal, with security line waits between 30 and 60 minutes, said Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Lara Uselding.
"Things are running very well for a Friday" at O'Hare, said United Airlines spokeswoman Robin Urbanski.
The ban, prohibiting all liquids and gels from being carried onto airplanes, was hastily added early Thursday after British authorities arrested 24 people in an alleged plot to blow up U.S.-bound planes by using explosives disguised as common liquids.
It wasn't clear how long that and other security measures would remain in effect, though Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., said the situation "eliminates the days of carry-on baggage."
Security was tightest on flights to and from the United Kingdom, where more items were banned and passengers faced additional luggage checks.
Incoming flights from London were delayed about 50 minutes at O'Hare, Urbanski said Friday morning. At Miami International Airport, some long lines formed ahead of the early international departures Friday, but they quickly cleared out, airport spokesman Greg Chin said.
Despite the threat and added security hoops to get through, Urbanski said travelers didn't appear to be ditching their flight plans. "We are not seeing any change in bookings ... nothing out of ordinary," she said.
At Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, about 3,700 of an estimated 51,000 travelers had missed their flights because of lines and delays on Thursday, when 164 flights were delayed, said airport spokesman Bob Parker.
Traffic was moving more smoothly at New York's major airports on Friday, where the morning flight delays were generally no more than 15 minutes, said Tiffany Townsend, a spokeswoman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
From London to Los Angeles, travelers on Thursday had found themselves unpacking carry-on bags on the floor in the terminals. Some tried to squeeze makeup, sunscreen and other toiletries into their checked baggage, where liquids were permissible. Others filled up the bins at security checkpoints, abandoning everything from nail polish to a bottle of tequila.
On Friday, travelers weren't taking chances.
"I checked everything except for books and a wallet," Cindy Mironovich, 49, said as she munched on a peach before going through security at Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey.
The only exceptions to the ban on liquids, lotions and gels were for baby formula and medications, which had to be presented for inspection at security checkpoints. Liquids were allowed in checked bags because those suitcases are screened for explosives and are stowed out off passengers' reach.
Other security measures were also ramped up at airports. Governors in Massachusetts, California and New York sent National Guard troops to major airports in their states. Search dogs and officers carrying machine guns still patrolled the Miami airport Friday.
At Boston's Logan Airport, weary National Guardsmen were one of the few signs anything was different Friday morning.
The last time members of the National Guard were deployed at Logan was October 2001, after two flights from the airport hit the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. The guard's mission ended in March 2002.
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney told about 50 guard members at the airport that he didn't expect this mission to be as lengthy: Only "until TSA and the airlines can get their resources up to a level where they can handle the gate-check area ... and you'll be able to return home to your families and to your regular jobs."