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Airport officials: Don’t be late for security procedures or you’ll miss your flight

September 16, 2018

SCOTTSBLUFF — As boarding numbers continue to climb at the Western Nebraska Regional Airport officials are reminding passengers they need to adhere to FAA regulations and be on time to the airport or risk missing their flight.

In the past two weeks, several people have missed their flight because they turned up well after the check-in deadline, an airport official said. They have made a variety of attempts to bypass regulations so they could catch their flight, but Airport Director Raul Aguallo said there is nothing he, or anyone else connected to the airport can do.

“We continually have struggles with people who can’t understand why they have to be here at 4:30 a.m.,” Aguallo said. “The reason is because when you get 50 people on a plane, it slows the process down.”

Aguallo said given the fact that 9-11 was a few days ago, it should serve as a sound reminder that steps need to be taken to ensure that never happens again.

United Airlines provides seven ways to check in for your flight. Of those, web and mobile check in closes 60 minutes before the scheduled departure of your flight. Curbside, self-service kiosk and ticket counter check-in close 30 minutes before departure. Boarding typically closes 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time for U.S. domestic flights.

While the airport is not pre-check certified, it does provide expedited screening. Pre-check allows a passenger to go through screening without removing shoes, belts, light jackets, laptops and 3-1-1 liquids. Expedited allows passengers to keep their shoes and jacket on.

Regardless of whether a person is a pre-check or expedited passenger, they still have to follow the regular TSA security rules if their boarding pass is scanned and the computer does not show they are in either category. Aguallo said even he and Cheryl Clause, assistant airport director, must follow the same rules as everyone else. A friend of Aguallo’s recently arrived at the airport late and could not get on the plane. His friend thought, as airport director he could “fix” it so his friend could get on the plane.

“The rules apply to everyone evenly,” he said.

Airport Authority Board Treasurer/Secretary Neal Smith said he has heard similar complaints about why people could not board.

“They have to get here earlier,” Smith said. “We seem to have to tell the public repeatedly.”

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does not deny anyone a boarding pass. That is not their job. However, in Scottsbluff, every piece of checked luggage must be screened by hand and in a specific manner as well as passengers and their carry-on luggage.

“There are times in place, which say, ‘This is the cut off time and if you’re not standing in front of me, you’re not getting in,’” Aguallo said. “Don’t be mad or upset at them (TSA). They are here to protect us.”

At the airport, the TSA works split shifts seven days a week to check passengers and their luggage as quickly as possible. Getting to the airport earlier will help in processing everyone in a timely manner, he said. When everyone shows up at the deadline, problems arise.

“If we have 50 people show up at that 30-minute cutoff, the plane is going to be late,” said Kara Aguallo, transportation security manager for TSA for Panhandle of Nebraska. “Please be here earlier so it’s not this big, stressful situation.”

The Airport Board, United Airlines, TSA and airport director all have the same message for the flying public — get to the airport early for smooth sailing.

For a detailed list of check-in times, visit https://tinyurl.com/airportcheckin.

inorth@starherald.com

Officials reiterate the need for passengers to arrive early for flights out of Scottsbluff.

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