Notebook: Traveling Under Code Orange

By The Early Show national correspondent Tracy Smith.

6:50 pm on an O'Hare runway — I'm sitting on a plane, waiting to take off for New York Laguardia. The pilot has said it'll be "a long night," so we're allowed to use our electronic devices. I can't blame the delay only on the heightened security measures because weather in New York is playing a large part in the holdup, too.

I started my day at 4:30 a.m., waking up like so many of us did to news of the foiled terror attack. By the time I got to the airport at 6 a.m., there were signs up saying: "Effective immediately — Passengers may not have any liquid or gels of any size at the screening checkpoint or in the cabin of the aircraft."

Unsure what exactly that meant, I headed to the security line with several potions and lotions still in my purse. The line was about 3 times as long as normal, and a bunch of us went through the same exercise: pulling objects out of our bags and asking the TSA guy: "Is this ok?"

He made me give up my hairspray, some gel and some liquid makeup. I asked him about Visine eye drops, and he let me keep them.

After a short flight delay (they held all flights for about a half hour to accommodate security delays), I landed in O'Hare. There I saw bins of discarded items outside security: hairspray, liquid foundation, bottled water, stick deodorant, mousse, yogurt, Visine, body lotion, a full bottle of whiskey and a jar of peanut butter — all left behind. It was an odd collection they were amassing — so different from sharp objects like manicure scissors and knives that I'd seen piled in bins the last time they tightened security, after 9/11.

I was a bit annoyed about my frizzy hair, but after getting more details of the magnitude of the averted plot, my fellow passengers and I all seemed to be of the same mind: frizzy hair's a pretty small sacrifice if these new rules are actually making us safer.

But here's the interesting part: when I went back through O'Hare security this evening, the rules, or at least their application, had changed. They took my mascara — "it's a liquid" — lip gloss, hand sanitizer, and yes, the very same eye drops that the TSA guy in New York had told me were OK.
Tracy Smith