Beginning tomorrow, October 26, passengers heading to the USA will be subject to a substantial increase in security measures before being allowed to board their flight. In fact, the new requirements include being at the airport AT LEAST 90 minutes ahead of your USA-bound flight’s departure so that you have enough time for the new screening process. This covers all USA and International carriers that fly to the USA.
According to the TSA, this will impact 2,000 daily flights that arrive in the USA and approximately 325,000 passengers.
This is not exactly a new surprise that popped up today. Tomorrow happens to be a deadline that was set 120 days ago when the USA first issued bans on electronics in the cabin, and other restrictions. Most if not all of those restrictions have since been lifted once airlines and airports demonstrated compliance with the new policies.
What might be different starting tomorrow?
The biggest change that I see is that security personnel will increase the number of ‘random’ interviews that they conduct with passengers heading to the USA. These interviews can happen either at the check-in area or at the gate.
Airlines have announced substantial changes as a result of this policy change. For example, Cathay Pacific has suspend ‘remote check-in’ at locations away from the airport and bag drop off services in cities such as Hong Kong.
Lufthansa Group is asking Economy Class passengers to be at the airport at least 90 minutes prior to departure to allow for enough time for the added scrutiny.
The TSA has been intentionally cryptic with what other security measures take effect tomorrow, but considering the nature and sensitivity of security, it’s understandable that they’re not telling us everything that they plan on doing. In their comments however they did indicate that this security enhancement is being done in order to prevent something like an Electronics Ban from being reinstated.
I guess for that alone, a little more screening at the airport is a small price to pay.
LH group announced a new way of booking trips to a limited group of destinations that help reduce your costs and add a bit of mystery to your trip.
The way it works is that you first tell LH the dates you want to depart and return on and then book your trip as usual. Two days before your departure, you’ll get an email from LH letting you know what flights you’ll be taking. Don’t fret, you’ll depart and return on the days you booked, but you might get some creative routing for the trip. Your flights will be operated by a combination of Lufthansa, SWISS, or Austrian aircraft.
This new program is dubbed ‘AnyWay’ and it covers travel from most of Lufthansa’s German gateways including Stuttgart, Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt, Berlin, Dusseldorf, and Leipzig. However, the ‘AnyWay’ concept only covers 10 destinations thus far: Miami, Bangkok, Mumbai, Dubai, Boston, Delhi, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Peking, Shanghai, and Tel Aviv.
Keep in mind that this is only available to Economy Class bookings made for travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
For your willingness to be this flexible, the fares will be a bit cheaper than the lowest prices usually offered on a given route. In most cases, I observed fares being €50 to €100 less.
Sounds like fun if you’re into saving a small bit of money, but there can be some consequences to being frugal…..
The biggest issue that I see and would have with this program is that you’ll be steered to aircraft that will already be near capacity and the airlines are trying to squeeze every last ‘sardine’ into the tin. What this might mean for you is that you may be stuck in a middle seat on a very overcrowded A340 aircraft as you jet off to Asia. Since you’ll be among the last passengers to be put on a flight, your odds of getting a good seat diminish dramatically. If you book for you and your family, your odds of sitting together all but vanish if the plane is full.
However, if you’re into sitting at the back of an A340 in the seat next to the stairs going down to lavatories, you’ll have virtually everyone sitting in coach walking past you at least twice during the flight so you might be able to make a few friends as a result! 😉
‘AnyWay’ is set to launch on October 23 and will be available for travel from Mid-December to Mid-March in most cases.
To learn more about the program and to book travel under ‘AnyWay’, please visit the AnyWay webpage. However as of this writing, it appears that the webpage is not yet functioning even though the launch was set for October 23.
In the soap opera known as ‘Will There, Or Won’t There Be An Electronics Ban’ it appears that the latest chapter suggests that we may not have much to worry about.
Speaking at the International Summit on Borders, Homeland Security boss John Kelly state that he ‘has a fair amount of confidence’ with the notion that aviation security measures can be improved and increased, thus benefiting passengers.
He added “The good news is, I think … with a fair amount of confidence, that we can raise the level overall of aviation security and not inconvenience the traveling public very much, if at all in some cases and just really add to the security and get our arms around”
Though he didn’t altogether come out say there’s nothing to worry about regarding a ban, it appears that he may be less keen than he was a few weeks ago on ruining travel for millions of people.
Let’s see how the story changes in the coming days and weeks. It seems like we get alternating positions from Homeland Security as far as the ban is concerned.
Citing recent terrorist attacks in France, the UK, Sweden, and Russia, the US State Department today issued an alert asking Americans traveling to Europe to take extra precautions and increase their vigilance during their travels. The alert is to remain in place until September 1, 2017.
The alert itself cited no specific threat, but simply asks that Americans do their due diligence when traveling in countries that may carry extra risks to visitors.
The text, exactly as released by the State Department on May 1, 2017:
Earlier today, headlines started to pop up suggesting that the TSA was entertaining the idea of expanding the current Laptop ban to include the whole of Europe, including the UK. Mind you, this is a TSA that has a 95% failure rate when it comes to screening tests.
Currently the ban applies to certain carriers operating from certain Mid-Eastern countries, so news of the ban being expanding comes as a bit of a frustrating surprise.
Homeland Security officials in the USA have not commented on this other than the generic and predictable ‘We’re considering all options and have not made any decisions’ type of worthless commentary.
Any new policy or expansion of the existing version would mean that a device larger than a ‘Smart Phone’ would be considered too large to bring aboard, including any kind of laptop or tablet device.
Maybe at this point, major US and European carriers will speak up against the ridiculous policy and sway their respective governments. Now that the shoe may be put on the other foot, lets see how non-Mideast carriers will respond.
Predictably to this point, the non-M/E carriers have not spoken out against the current ban since the existing policy hurts their competitors. Let’s see what kind of whining we’ll get if everyone has to play by the same rules, regardless of how stupid and ineffective the rules would be.