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.
The TSA announced yesterday that electronics being brought aboard flights operating from or within the USA will be subject to additional scrutiny at security check points.
In the coming days and weeks, a new measure will be rolled out at airports that requires passengers to take out any electronics larger than a Smart Phone, and place them in a separate bin at security checkpoints. This includes items such as laptops, tablets, walkmans ( 🙂 ), any kind of camera, or camera lens.
This new process is not unlike what we’ve been accustomed to for years when it came to our laptops.
As I said the title of this post, things could have been much worse. Only a few short weeks ago we were staring at the spectre of having to put all electronic items larger than a phone into checked bags. I’ll settle for this new policy anytime if it means keeping my gear with me.
By the way, for those of us enrolled in TSA’s PreCheck, fear not, we don’t have to take anything out of our bags so it’s business as usually for us in that respect. This policy does not apply to us.
Lufthansa has announced that it will make life a bit easier for passengers flying from Munich’s Terminal 2 to a handful of German cities.
For passengers flying to Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, or Dusseldorf, they will be able to bypass the main security screening checkpoints and go to the gate area for the flights where security screening will take place.
Dubbed ‘SmartDepart’, this new screening process is now in place during peak travel times of 6:00a to 8:30a and from 4:00p to 6:30p. In addition to the security ‘shortcut’, the gates for these flights will be located in the central area of Terminal 2, further reducing the amount of time passengers need to take to make their flights. In fact, the aircraft will park at gates closest to the exits of the destination airports as well.
But there is one theoretical restriction to the program. Signage indicates that passengers traveling with ONLY ONE carry on piece of luggage will be allowed to use SmartDepart. But in practice I find it hard to believe that passengers will be penalized if they have a purse or small briefcase in addition to their carry on bag. We’ve come to know that barks have always been worse than bites when it comes to such things.
If you are traveling on one of these flights, look for signage that reads ‘Smart Depart Fast Lane’ inside of T2 in Munich. That will take you to the express security check point.
The service is open to all passengers on these flights regardless of Miles & More status or class of travel.
If I understand LH’s press release correctly, it appears that this program will be expanded to more LH flights starting on October 31.
The TSA has announced a trial program focused on increasing the scrutiny of electronic devices that are brought aboard aircraft.
The experiment has been quietly launched at 10 airports throughout the USA and requires passengers to unpack any electronic device larger than a phone, and place the devices in a separate screening bin.
The TSA hopes to prove that the increased security measures will not lead to increased wait times at Security Checkpoints. Their belief is that if passengers remove all electronic devices from the bags, it leaves little room for misunderstandings. For example in my own travels, I’ve experienced some airports requiring iPads to be removed, while other airports said iPads could be left in a bag. With one consistent system-wide rule, it might actually decrease screening delays due to bags needing to be rescreened because there are no clear set of rules.
Personally, I’m not sure why the TSA has to go through ordeal of retooling something that hasn’t caught anyone trying to bring an explosive aboard a plane inside of an electronics device. It seems like they are trying to fix something that isn’t broken. I don’t see where anything substantial would be gained as far improving the screening process is concerned. But that’s just me.
For those of us in the PreCheck program, rest easy. The enhanced screening will not apply to PreCheck members.
As of now, the following airports are part of the TSA’s trial and testing of this new concept:
- Boise Airport (BOI)
- Colorado Springs Airport (COS)
- Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW)
- Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
- Logan International Airport (BOS)
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
- Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport (LBB)
- Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (SJU)
- McCarran International Airport (LAS)
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
Homeland Security officials announced today that they are talking to airlines and helping them prepare for an expansion of the current electronics ban.
The new warning suggests that Western Europe and other regions around the world will become subject to a policy that is currently only effect on a handful of carriers operating from a handful of North African and Mideast airports.
The ban will prevent passengers from bringing electronic devices larger than a smart phone aboard their USA-bound flights. DHS officials in their comments declined to say which regions are being targeted for the expanded ban, but did not rule out Western Europe as one of their primary focuses.
The DHS claims that it is acting on real and reliable intelligence that has led them to consider casting a wider net for the policy. No timetable has been announced for the implementation of expanded ban, but with DHS meeting with airlines to discuss the policy, the timing might be sooner than later.
Related: Electronics ban may be expanded