In the post 911 era, many things have changed, due to extra security concerns. Some of the sensitive student travel destinations in the New York City area are potential targets because they are symbols of the United States. These include The Statue of Liberty, the United Nations building, and the Empire State Building. There are other buildings that may also be potential targets in the New York City area. I focus on these three because they are the main three sites that most student travel tours want to visit.
For this article, I have interviewed Karen Goodman, a licensed New York City tour guide who works closely with my company, Educational Travel Consultants. Her knowledge of New York City is extensive. I interviewed her on the topic of how student travel groups may prepare to enter New York City sites.
Q. What advice would you give to student travel groups headed to the Statue of Liberty, the United Nations Building, or the Empire State Building?
A. Always travel as light as you can. When you move along the security line, it’s best not to be singled out, because it takes more time to pass through.
Q. What are some of the items related to tourism and education,that you are permitted to take into these buildings?
A. Visitors can bring ipods and cameras with them, but they must be placed in the basket as they pass through security.
Q. Can you explain the security process at the Statue of Liberty?
A. Yes. All student travel groups pass through security tents before they board the ferry boat. Metal detectors are under these tents. All electronics, including watches, ipods or cameras, go through the metal detector in a basket.
Q. Does this security process at the Statue of Liberty take a little more time?
Yes. Similar to planning a little more time at the airport, student travel groups need to leave some space in the itinerary for the day to allow for passing through security, especially if they are a large group.
Q. Is there anything that student travelers to New York City should try to avoid bringing?
A. Sometimes a student will inadvertently bring a pocket knife. Usually, these are confiscated by security, and they are not returned. It’s best not to bring this sort of thing at all.
Q. Are the tents near the ferry in Battery Park the only security checkpoints for the Statue of Liberty?
A. For now, yes. Once student travel groups board the ferry, the security check is completed.
Q. Does the United Nations have a similar security checkpoint in place?
A. The United Nations has metal detectors that student travel groups must pass through as well. The same rules as the Statue of Liberty apply.
Q. What is security like in the Empire State Building?
A. Since it is an historic building that signifies many things, the security is similar in scope to Statue of Liberty and the United Nations building. Around the escalator area, there are security checkpoints with metal detectors in place. Students should be prepared for similar regulations when visiting the Statue of Liberty and the United Nations building.
Q. Do you have any additional tips for student travel groups headed to the New York City area?
A. Yes, some buildings, such as museums, will have guards that request a look inside a handbag or backpack. Student groups should be prepared to open their bags, if asked. In some buildings, a backpack must be checked at the door. So, if a student is traveling and he or she has a choice about leaving a backpack, it would be a good idea to leave it on the charter bus.
Q. Do you have any concluding thoughts about leading student travel tours in the New York City area, in a post 911 era?
A. I think that most people are aware at this point, that we have extra security regulations to consider when we travel. They set up the tents just six months after September 11th near the ferries to the Statue of Liberty. And it’s been many years now travelers have had to prepare for extra security. This precaution has to be done. Even though it may be time consuming, security is important.
With that being said, be aware of the metal detectors, and prepare for them accordingly.
Student travel groups on tour in New York City need to go light and leave the extra baggage behind. Make the most of a student travel tour to New York City, by planning extra time in the itinerary for security checkpoints at major sites. The security procedures at the Statue of Liberty, the United Nations building, and the Empire State Building are subject to change at any time.
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