As news of the foiled potential terrorist plot targeting commercial flights between Britain and the U.S. made its way around the globe, flights were canceled, airports stepped up security, and passengers were left stranded in long lines and overcrowded waiting areas. In the U.S., there was confusion in airports because of changes to screening procedures issued by the Transportation Security Agency (TSA).

The TSA is urging travelers to pack lightly without clutter, check with carriers before departing for the airport, and arrive at least two hours before their flights to allow for additional screening.

In the days to come, travelers will have to negotiate inevitable delays and adjust to the new screening rules. But there are ways to streamline the air travel process, and there are services that offer businesses alternatives to flying. And for those who can afford it, private air travel is an option that has been steadily gaining popularity.

After the September 11 attacks many security consultants began recommending that executives fly private aircraft—advice businesspeople were more than happy to take. Sales of private planes have climbed steadily over the past three years. In the first half of 2006, they rose 35%, to $8.8 billion. Those numbers are likely to fly even higher thanks to a new generation of very light jets, such as the $1.5 million Eclipse 500, that are just beginning to be delivered.

Still, some aviation experts think the increase in private plane sales has more to do with rising corporate profits than fear of terrorism. "If the measures implemented in the coming weeks make it much harder to travel that could push a few 'fence sitters' over the line between public and private air travel," says Richard L. Aboulafia, vice-president for analysis at the Teal Group, an aviation consultancy. "But then again, the changes are likely to hit harder for international travelers, where private air is particularly expensive."

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