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.
Over the past few hours, the USA and Turkey have banned the issuance of travel visas that effectively bans American citizens from entering Turkey, and vice versa. Turkey issued their ban hours ago after the USA instituted the ban earlier on Monday (October 9).
This comes as part of the American protest over the arrest of a Turkish citizen who worked for the US Embassy in Ankara. The Turks claim the employee has links to Fethullah Gulen, an individual that Turkey believes is behind terrorist attacks within their borders.
Typically, Americans traveling to Turkey simply buy their Visas at the airport in Istanbul or other points of entry and proceed to enter the country with no problem. However, as a result of this suspension this is no longer possible and Americans traveling to Turkey in the near term will not be allowed to enter the country. This ban applies to the online Turkish E-Visa system as well.
Turkish Airline flights between the USA and Turkey have not been impacted thus far. No US based carrier flies to Turkey.
The situation is quite fluid so expect more updates.
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.