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.
Due to the ratcheting up of security measures instituted by the TSA at airports worldwide, passengers bound for the USA are being asked to arrive at the airport earlier than normal to account for the extra scrutiny.
Specific to Lufthansa, it is asking passengers flying to the USA from Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, and Munich to be at the airport at least an hour prior to their flight if flying in Economy or Premium Economy, and 40 minutes prior if flying in Business or First Class. LH is referring to this as the minimum time needed for ‘Check-In Acceptance’.
It may be a good idea to make sure you check in to your flight before coming to the airport. Easy to do via Lufthansa.com or the LH App. This way you can bypass the check-in process at the airport and head straight to your gate.
According to LH, this additional time requirement is not being instituted at any other airport where Lufthansa Group flights depart for the USA. Their press release also suggests that your small electronic devices may be subject to additional scrutiny before you are allowed to board your flight. That however, is a small price to pay for the ability to at least take your electronics on board.
Minimum connection times at the affected airports will not change.
The release did mention SWISS flights from Zurich, and is asking passengers bound for the USA to show up in ZRH at least 3 hours ahead of departure.
Homeland Security today released a one page synopsis highlighting their focuses for enhanced screening for passengers traveling to the USA.
Rather than transpose the text released by the agency, I’ve copied their summary below.
It’s fairly straight forward. 280 airports in 105 countries will subject passengers to additional scrutiny including extra screening of electronics.
Their release did not indicate which airports would be subject to the extra security. This comes as great relief to many of us who feared the worst as far as not being able to bring electronics aboard certain flights.
From Homeland Security:
Change to Global Aviation Security Requirements
In light of evaluated intelligence, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly has determined it is necessary to implement enhanced security measures for all commercial flights to the United States. These measures, both seen and unseen, include enhanced screening of passengers and electronic devices as well as heightened security standards for aircraft and airports.
- Countries: 105
- Airports: 280 (approximate number as it will vary based on seasonal airports)
- Total airlines: 180
- Average daily flights: 2,100
- Passengers: 325,000 average daily passengers
Enhanced Security Measures and Timeline
The enhanced security measures include but are not limited to:
- Enhancing overall passenger screening;
- Conducting heightened screening of personal electronic devices;
- Increasing security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas; and
- Deploying advanced technology, expanding canine screening, and establishing additional preclearance locations.
Over the course of the next several weeks and months, DHS/TSA will work with aviation stakeholders to ensure these enhanced security measures are fully implemented. Those stakeholders who fail to adopt these requirements with certain timeframes run the risk of additional security restrictions being imposed.
International Flights Bound for the United States
These enhanced security measures will help to secure all commercial flights departing from 280 airports that serve as last points of departure to the United States.
During testimony in Washington DC yesterday, Homeland Security boss John Kelly signaled that he is prepared to expand the current Electronics Ban to include 71 airports around the world.
His premise for this threat stems from these 71 airports not meeting the screening standards that are expected of them by US security officials. He declined to say which 71 airports he was referring to.
This list of 71 would most like include the 10 that are already on the list that prevents passengers from boarding with electronics larger than a typical smartphone.
He did say that any airport on the ‘banned list’ would have the opportunity to have itself removed if it upgraded its screening process to the level required by US Homeland Security.
For now, he did not indicated if, or when this extension would be put in place.
With all this said, it appears that Homeland Security may be softening its tone about the ban. As little as 2 weeks ago, rumors started swirling that the ban would even affect flights departing the USA. But in hearing Kelly’s comments yesterday, it appears that an airport may be exempt from a ban if it screens electronics ‘appropriately’. I suspect that most if not all US airports have the ability to appropriately screen electronics, so I’m hopeful that the ban may not be an ‘all or none’ proposition.
This morning during a televised interview, Department of Homeland Security boss John Kelly suggested that not only can an electronics ban be put in place on flights between Europe and the USA, but that it may be expanded to ALL international travel involving the USA.
During his interview, he suggested that Homeland Security and the TSA were looking at ways to ‘raise the bar’ on screening processes and to eliminate potential soft spots in air travel security..
This additional ‘threat’ comes on the heels of his comments on Friday where he did not deny the idea of expanding the Electronics Ban to include flights from the USA to Europe. The original ban threat covered only flights from Europe to the USA.
So now, in the third iteration of Kelly’s strategy, it looks like he’s going to throw a big wet blanket on all international flights operating from and to the USA.
At this point, I suspect the ban is inevitable. Kelly has been making way too much noise, and every time he speaks he seems to ratchet up his rhetoric about how laptops will do nothing but blow up airplanes. He also quipped that if Americans knew the kind of risks that are out there, we’d “never leave our house”.
Why not tell us, and let us decide.
I suspect there are no shares of airline securities in his portfolio 😉