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Joe Ranken patiently stood at the back of a line of 45 people waiting to get on a Greyhound bus.

He'd already waited more than 17 hours to board. A few more minutes wouldn't hurt.

Ranken and the other passengers were stranded in Billings overnight after a winter storm came through, covering the roads with ice and snow.

Jerry Stuart works at the bus station and said routes headed west to Seattle were closed Tuesday.

That was the route home for Ranken, who was visiting Detroit for a couple days and was looking forward to what has become a tradition: buying Thanksgiving dinner.

“It's my turn,” Ranken said at the bus station. “We go out so no one has to do dishes.”

He should make it on time. The bus finally came by 10:20 a.m. on Wednesday and hit the road shortly after.

Despite the wait, Ranken said he'd still rather ride than fly now that the Transportation Security Administration has upped security measures that have made some travelers uncomfortable.

The installation of full-body scanners and more invasive pat-down procedures have raised concerns over travelers' privacy.

Billings Logan International Airport doesn't have a full-body scanner.

Kevin Ploehn, assistant director of aviation at the airport, said most travelers won't notice a difference compared to any other year they have flown.

He expected about 1,350 travelers through the airport on Wednesday and expects closer to 1,400 on Sunday, comparable to last year's numbers.

“Because we don't have the full-body scanners, that is not a concern, and the chances of getting the resolution pat down is minimal,” Ploehn said.

He said the airport does not use hand wands to scan travelers who set off metal detectors, which means those going through with artificial knees or steel plates will have to cleared by security with a pat-down.

Some travelers arriving at the airport on Wednesday said they didn't even see much of an issue with security at larger airports.

Lexi Dysart, 18, flew into Billings from Orange County where she is studying dance. She said she didn't have any problems going through Los Angeles International Airport.

“It was normal, I just kind of went through,” Dysart said. “They didn't pat me down. I just went through the normal metal detector.”

Her mother, Terri, teared up when she saw Lexi coming down the escalator.

From Spokane, Terri and her husband, David, drove to Billings on Tuesday to have Thanksgiving with family. They were originally going to leave Wednesday, but once they heard a storm was brewing, they opted to try and beat the weather.

They packed up the van and headed out into the night.

“It was brutal,” David said. “There was no visibility on the freeway. The only way you could tell you were on the road was from the rumble strip.

“You thought you were going to die because you honestly could not see.”

But that still didn't stop them.

David said they hadn't seen their daughter since August, and he wasn't about to let a storm get in the way of seeing her.

Contact Chelsea Krotzer at or 657-1392.

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Contact Chelsea Krotzer at or 657-1392.