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Security Tight After Terror Scare

Holiday airport headaches subsided on Christmas Day for the most part, but some unlucky travelers found long security lines and canceled flights.

Air France flights between Los Angeles and Paris were canceled for a second straight day on Thursday, after U.S officials said they had "credible" evidence that terrorists were planning a jetliner attack on a U.S. target. The airline said flights were to resume normal service Friday.

French authorities released seven men — one French, one American and several Algerians — after briefly questioning them late Wednesday. They said they found no evidence connecting them to a possible 9/11-style attack on the U.S.

Even though the seven men were released in Paris, CBS News has learned intelligence authorities are still combing over the passenger list. A Christmas attack may have been scuttled, but there's still great alarm about chatter concerning New Year's.

At Los Angeles International Airport, which handles 150,000 passengers daily during the holidays, security remained at its strictest level since two months after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Private cars were barred from picking up or dropping off passengers at the curb.

Through it all, many at the Los Angeles airport remained focused on their travels.

"All I care about is getting home," Goran Sobaca said Wednesday at the airport. The 20-year-old student was heading to Belgrade, Serbia-Montenegro to celebrate Christmas with his family but his Air France flight to Paris was canceled. He arranged to reach Paris via Atlanta.

Elsewhere, a lack of flight attendants forced Delta Air Lines to delay or cancel 33 of its more than 6,000 flights Thursday, company spokesman Joshua Smith said.

The problem affected the Atlanta-based airline systemwide, but by early afternoon all the passengers who missed their flights were rebooked on Delta or other airlines, said spokesman Joshua Smith.

Smith said he did not know why the flight attendants were not available. "It could have been the flu," he said.

Overall, the nation's airports reported few delays on Christmas Day, traditionally a calm day amid a holiday storm of travelers. Security has been tightened with more extensive checks, car inspections and other measures since Sunday, when the nation's terror alert status was raised to orange, the second-highest level.

"We're doing a lot of things behind the scenes that the passengers don't see," said Sharon Sears, spokeswoman for Dayton (Ohio) International Airport. (But) we haven't had any problems with security procedures," she said.

Officials at major airports in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles reported no delays aside from the Air France cancellations.

Many travelers were understanding about the extra security.

In Philadelphia, Spc. Gregg Bly was waiting in the airport Thursday while traveling from Iraq to see his family in Columbus, Ohio. It was his first trip back to the States since January.

"I figured on a Christmas Day there wouldn't be too many people traveling, but the lines were long," said Bly, a transportation fuel hauler in the Army Reserves. "But I had no problems with security. It's great that they have the security going now, compared to the past."

Kendall Haynesworth, 29, flying out of Boston's Logan Airport, said the tighter security made her feel safer.

"I feel the U.S. is paying attention. I also think it makes the terrorists think twice," she said.

Officials worried that terrorists might try to use biological, chemical or radiological weapons installed more sensors around urban areas in California and elsewhere to detect dangerous microbes in the air.

The U.S. Coast Guard has upped its surveillance to 24 hours a day at ports such as San Francisco, where foreign merchant ships dock daily.

California Highway Patrol spokesman Tom Marshall said 28 helicopters and planes were flying patrols over electrical grids, aqueducts, major bridges, power plants and state buildings.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered the patrols because of the national terror alert, Marshall said.

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