Will Security Rules Limit Business Travel?

An airline passenger, left, is greeted by Transportation Security Administration screeners at Los Angeles International Airport, in this May, 2003 file photo.
AP Photo/Nick Ut
After 9/11, travelers had to get used to a whole new set of security procedures at U.S. airports. These days, taking off your shoes and tossing out that bottle of water are routine. But with this latest security scare has come a series of new rules. CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg has more on what they may mean.

With business travelers attempting to get back on the road after the holiday break, the reality of the new restrictions is just beginning to sink in.

"I am hoping for the best," traveler Bill Zak said, preparing for a flight to Shanghai.

"Before it was two hours in advance to go to the airport," said Bita Rad, also headed to China. "Now I get here maybe three hours in advance and I still run the risk of not making my flight."

If time is money, the new restrictions and long security lines could prove costly.

One survey found that 41 million trips were avoided in 2008 because of travel hassles, including airport and airline security delays, costing the U.S. economy an estimated $26 billion.

If business travelers choose to stay home now, experts say, the impact on the travel industry in particular, and the overall economy in general, would be significant.

"On the whole, for every travel dollar you spend, corporations see about $15 worth of profit to the bottom line," said Michael McCormick of the National Business Travel Association. "So for companies to fuel the economy, these are dollars that will need to be spent."

The real concern now is what happens if those travel dollars aren't spent?

There are some ways for travelers to get around these new restrictions - something they've done in the past. Business travelers in the past have avoided airports with particularly tough restrictions, like London when it had a one-bag-only carry-on rule.

In Canada, where screening is now ramping up, business travelers may choose to drive from Vancouver to Washington state or Toronto to Burlington, Vt. and fly from there.

American businesses spent $278 billion on international travel in 2008. If airline and airports lose too much revenue, they may be forced to relax these new rules.