Few problems for Denver fliers, but drivers warned
DENVER (AP) – Air travelers found few difficulties Wednesday as a busy but calm Denver airport entered its heaviest travel week in history, but drivers faced bigger problems.
The western half of the state was under a blizzard warning, with forecasters warning of whiteout conditions and urging motorists to keep extra blankets and clothing in the car in case they get stranded. (In Summit County, only light snow has been falling so far Wednesday, although winds are starting to pick up.)
At Denver International Airport, which expected nearly 162,000 travelers to pass through on Wednesday, security lines were busy but brisk.
A few protesters stood near baggage claim to hand out leaflets protesting the Transportation Security Administration’s body scanners and pat-downs, but the protesters reported lukewarm interest from busy travelers heading to their gates.
Chris Maj, a 31-year-old protester from Denver, stood with a rolling suitcase and carried a sign that read, “STOP THE TSA ASK ME HOW.” He and three other protesters handed out pocket-size copies of the U.S. Constitution and decried what they described as aggressive pat-downs.
“They’re touching breasts, they’re touching buttocks, all of these places that if you or I were to touch, we’d go to jail,” said Maj, a self-employed computer programmer. The protesters had permits to hand out leaflets inside the airport near baggage claim, but not near the security lines.
Later, he left his post to watch the security lines and saw a man in his 50s get a pat-down.
“Wow … wow,” said Maj, a member of a group called Campaign for Liberty. He said the group wasn’t associated with the tea party but shares its belief in limited government and thinks the new screening procedures violate the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches.
The airport was reporting few problems. It expects to serve more than 1 million passengers this week – making it the busiest Thanksgiving travel week in the airport’s 15-year history.
Things were dicier in the mountains, where there were blizzard warnings even as three major ski resorts opened for the season.
A blizzard warning was in effect until midnight Wednesday in areas including Vail, Aspen and Telluride. Six to 12 inches of snow were forecast and winds gusting to 60 mph were expected to cause whiteout conditions.
None of Colorado’s interstate highways were closed early Wednesday, but highway officials closed some minor mountain passes and called for chain requirements on commercial vehicles. Some interstate highways in Utah and Idaho were closed as the hard-hitting storm moved through there.
Little accumulation was predicted in Denver and the eastern part of Colorado.
AAA has predicted that nationwide, roughly 39.7 million will travel by road this holiday week, a 12 percent increase from last Thanksgiving.
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