Tight flight restrictions such as keeping passengers in their seats for the last hour eased Monday and will be left to individual airlines and crews, officials with the Transportation Security Administration said.
"Those flight instructions are a little more discretionary to the airline and the pilot now," said a TSA official speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Jenny Dervin, a spokeswoman for JetBlue Airways, said the airline restored in-flight television programming Monday. Over the weekend, the airline had turned off all in-flight programming on international flights bound for the United States.
"Going forward, customers should still expect a heightened security protocol for all flights . . . but the actual procedures may not be as consistent across the board," she said.
Passengers arriving at Kennedy Airport and Long Island MacArthur Airport Monday said security remained tight in the aftermath of the foiled terrorist attack in Detroit on Christmas Day.
Some passengers described an anxious, frightening mood on their flights. Others said multiple, mandatory body searches and thorough checks of all carry-on luggage were common.
"I had two pat-downs in Jamaica and two pat-downs here [at Kennedy]," said Collin Graham, 50, visiting New York from Jamaica.
"They were constantly watching you when you did get up," said Boyce.
Most passengers said they approved the measures, even as TSA officials made the restrictions less rigid Monday.
"I love the extra security," said Graham. "I'm afraid of this bombing thing. I wouldn't mind staying an extra hour if I am safe."
Others said the atmosphere on the planes was fraught with fear.
"They made the usual announcements once we arrived on the flight, but they did encourage us, a lot more than usual, to stay in our seats," said Barbara Dykman, 47, arriving at MacArthur from Florida.
For some, the heightened atmosphere was enough to make them think twice about flying.
"I still feel safe flying, but if I had a choice, I would definitely choose to drive rather [than] fly," said Evelyn Burke, 45, traveling to MacArthur from Nashville, Tenn. "It's scary."