Travelers take terror alert in stride at Salt Lake International Airport

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utahns traveling to Europe, and those already there, are trying to weigh the impact of a travel alert issued by the U.S. Department of State Sunday.

Most travelers are taking it all in stride, but they're also taking the warning seriously.

KSL News spoke with some passengers at Salt Lake International Airport who were preparing to board a flight to Paris Monday afternoon.


"I guess I'm not bothered by it," Scott Naegle said. "They say, ‘We still want you to travel, but just be aware.'"

"‘Just be careful and aware,'" his wife, Mary Naegle repeated. "So, we're going to."

While the U.S. government is not telling people to stay home, Attorney General Eric Holder is telling people to use caution around trains, airports and tourist attractions in Europe. Keep in mind, terror plots have been foiled by alert travelers in the past

Margaret Bury, who is originally from London, never once thought she would cancel. Still, she admits the alert has affected her.

"We're a little anxious, so we'll try to keep a low profile," Bury said.

Another traveler's wife had concerns.

"She was just a little worried after the news; but we paid the money for the trip, so we have to do it," said Nick Edvarchuk.

He's not alone.

"Non-refundable," Scott Naegle said. "That's why we're going."

The state department says Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups may be planning attacks like the deadly 2008 Bombings and Shootings in Mumbai, India; but no specific country or city is cited in the alert.

Utah resident Matt Caputo, his wife and 1-year-old daughter are already traveling in Europe.

"We just became aware of it a couple of hours ago and haven't noticed anything different," Caputo said.

On the phone from Germany, he said he and his family enjoyed Oktoberfest Saturday, but were surprised to see little security.

"It's certainly a little nerve-wracking, but it seems like every time I'm in Europe there's always some sort of thing like this going on," Caputo said.

They are traveling by airplane and train, and will continue on to Barcelona, Spain, and Vienna, Austria. They will not change their plans but plan to keep their eyes open.

Brent Jenson, a regional manager with Morris Murdock Travel, says clients have called with questions, but no one has canceled. The travel agents have also notified clients about the alert in the middle of trips.

"I would certainly encourage our clients, or anyone traveling in Europe at this point in time, to be a little bit more subtle about being an American," Brent Jenson said.

Jenson advises:

  • Don't wear jackets that make you stand out as an American
  • Register your destination cities online at the U.S. Department of State website so that the consulate will know where you are if something happens
  • Travel insurance would help if your trip is interrupted by a major event

"We are always going to have terrorist alerts like this for the rest of our lives, and we cannot allow terrorists to run our lives," Jenson said.

At Salt Lake International and other airports, the TSA says travelers can expect the same mix of countermeasures ranging from simple pat downs to explosives-trace detection.

Officials from the FBI and homeland security department say they have no indication that terrorists are targeting the U.S. or its citizens as part of the new threat against Europe. An intelligence bulletin obtained The Associated Press says they do believe that al-Qaida wants to attack the United States, but there is nothing pointing to any specific plots.

For now, this alert remains in effect until the end of January.


Story written with contributions from Jed Boal, Andrew Adams and The Associated Press.

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