Airlines implement ‘enhanced security’ for USA flights

Five international airlines have begun implementing new ‘enhanced security’ measures for their US bound flights which includes ‘enhanced screening’ of personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone.

Air France, Lufthansa Group (including SWISS, Austrian and Brussels), Cathay Pacific, Emirates and EgyptAir have also introduced a security questioning process which ranges from filling a questionnaire to questioning by airline staff. Royal Jordanian airlines will commence the enhanced processes by January 2018 after it obtained an extension from the US authorities.

These new procedures are bound to have a delaying effect in the boarding process, and airlines are requesting passengers to arrive as much as three hours before their flights.

The new measures come at the end of the 120 day period announced by the Trump administration following increased fear of Islamic State terrorists hiding bombs in laptops and tablets.

The security interviews could be conducted with passengers either at check-in or at the aircraft boarding point. This could affect the about 300,000+ passengers who arrive in the US daily aboard 2,100+ flights. 180 airlines operate flights to the US from 280 airports in 105 countries.

A spokesperson for the US TSA (Transportation Security Administration) explained “The security measures affect all individuals, international passengers and US citizens, travelling to the United States from a last point of departure international location”

Cathay Pacific has suspended its self baggage drop and city check-in for its US bound flights. Emirates will conduct its ‘interviews’ at check-in or at the gate in Dubai. Air France has begun the new interview process at Paris Orly airport and commence at its main Paris Charles de Gaulle hub next week.

Direct India to USA flights

Only two airlines currently operate flights directly from India to the United States. United Airlines and Air India. United’s website says “The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) now requires additional security measures for all international flights to the U.S. These measures may include enhanced screening of travelers with questioning of some or all travelers, as well as heightened screening of electronic devices larger than a standard smartphone. Travelers should be prepared to remove these devices from their protective cases or outer packaging for inspection. If you have a case that requires a screwdriver or other special tools to remove, we recommend doing so before arriving at the airport.” The airline recommends arriving at the airport at least three hours prior to departure.

We are trying to obtain information from Air India and will update this story when we do. Air India’s ED for security said the airline is in touch with the TSA and is working out the modalities on how to follow the new ‘enhanced’ guidelines. Part of the requirements and procedures are already in practice. However, he did not indicate a target date for full implementation. For now, please arrive early.

Arrive early, be patient

We request our readers to be patient with the airline and security staff. These are new procedures they are getting used to and will appreciate your cooperation.

As usual share your thoughts via a comment.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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