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Byline: Rick Barrett
Dec. 1--When James Michaels flew to Florida Thursday, his baggage was not searched, and he did not have to empty his pockets and remove his shoes at security checkpoints.
The Oconomowoc dentist, his family and a few friends bypassed the major airlines and booked a charter flight, thus avoiding the baggage checks, probing questions and hassles associated with airport security.
Instead of spending much of their day waiting in airport lines, they flew to Winter Haven, Fla., from a small airfield in Watertown in about two hours.
"This weekend, we don't have a lot of time," Michaels said. "With a charter flight, we have tremendous freedom to leave when we want and to return when we want."
Michaels is not alone in his use of charter flights for recreational trips. Once the primary domain of business travelers, today more than 25 percent of charter traffic comes from leisure travel. That is up from 12 percent a year ago, according to the Air Charter Guide, an aviation industry publication.
Because charters operate under different rules and fly from smaller airports, security is less burdensome. Even when charter travelers have to pass through metal detectors, they don't have to wait in lines.
"The hassle of flying …