Police step up presence at airports, travelers wary after Brussels attacks

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Tuesday morning’s terrorist attacks in Brussels prompted NFTA Police to increase their presence at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, the Niagara Falls Airport, and on the Metro rail lines.

The move was made “as an abundance of caution”, according to NFTA officials, not in response to any local threat.

Still, the attacks at the airport in Brussels left travelers at Buffalo Niagara International airport on edge. “You can’t relax like you should be able to,” said Tony Smith, who had traveled to Buffalo from Chicago via Newark. Smith works in China and is a frequent international traveler, but he said the news of the latest terror attacks left him uneasy about flying.

“When you add things like the idea of terrorist activity to it, it makes staying on the ground something that you really want to do as opposed to flying,” Smith said. “I mean I used to like flying but now I don’t.”

Other travelers arriving at Buffalo Niagara International Tuesday morning said they won’t let what the terrorists have done change the way they fly. “You have to take it with a grain of salt. You have to use caution, but you’ve got to live,” said Mary O’Brien who flew home to the Buffalo area from St. Paul, Minnesota Tuesday.

Aside from a much more visible police presence, things seemed to be basically business as usual at Buffalo Niagara International, with relatively short waits to get through security and back to gates for departing flights.

That was not the case at other airports around the country this morning, where stricter screening measures turned into longer lines at checkpoints. “This morning there was a lot of people. They were going quite a bit slower,” O’Brien said about going through security.

“They kind of dwindled it down to one line, one checkpoint. I didn’t understand what that was about, but it was a little hectic,” said Randy Walker, who went through security at the airport in Phoenix Tuesday morning before boarding a flight to Buffalo.

Travel pros say everyone should expect delays going through security now.

“Especially with Easter this week coming up, you’re going to make sure that you do take extra time and extra precautions,” said Elizabeth Carey, Public Affairs Manager for AAA Western & Central New York

“Evidently, you’ve got to take every precaution. Don’t take anything for granted,” said Dan O’Brien, who flew into the Buffalo airport on Tuesday.

Although no travel warning or alert has been issued for Europe or Belgium by the federal government at this point, it is up to individual travelers to decide whether they want to go ahead with planned trips now. “A lot of times travel insurance will kick in within 30 days of a terror alert, or a terror threat, and in this case, an actual terror incident. So AAA says that insurance would kick in in most cases within those 30 days but you can check with your travel consultant to make sure,” Carey explained.

Experts with AAA urge all travelers to be aware of their surroundings always, and they urge all international travelers to register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). That makes it easier for the US embassy or consulate to contact you if needed.

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