Flying to the United States is about to get more inconvenient, due to security concerns.
As a part of anti-terror measures, new security measures will take effect from Thursday at airports around the world which will result into US-bound travellers facing security interviews before checking in for flights at a number of global airlines, said media reports.
A spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), an agency of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), said the new steps will cover about 2,100 flights a day.
According to USA Today, the measures apply to 180 airlines flying to the US from 280 airports in 105 countries. The report added that around 3,25,000 people fly to the US on 2,000 flights daily.
Here are the new rules that you need to know:
Which airlines and passengers?
All of them. The new procedures apply to all flights to the US from other countries. They will apply to both American citizens and foreigners.
Travellers could face more detailed inspection of their electronic devices. And they could be subject to security interviews by airline employees, according to a US government official. The interviews could differ from one airline to another. Emirates said it will conduct screening interviews at check-in counters for passengers leaving Dubai. Air France said it will provide questionnaires for all US-bound passengers to fill out.
What will be the effect of the changes?
Delta Air Lines and Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways are telling international travellers to arrive at the airport at least three hours before their flight to allow time for security screening. Privately some airline officials worry that a major increase in passenger interviews could slow the boarding process and lead to flight delays.
Thursday is the 120-day deadline set when the Trump administration announced enhanced screening procedures for US-bound flights. The measures take the place of a ban on laptops in the cabins of planes coming from 10 airports in eight predominantly Muslim countries: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Morocco. The ban was announced in March and grew out of fear that terrorists could hide a bomb inside a laptop, but it was unpopular with passengers who had to place their electronics in checked baggage. It was dropped in July.
Can airlines handle this?
Most say they're ready, and they've had four months' notice. Still, at least one carrier, Royal Jordanian, says it got an exemption for more time to comply with the new rules. Vaughn Jennings, a spokesman for the trade group Airlines for America, says these are "complex security measures" but the Department of Homeland Security has been flexible, which is helping airlines comply.
What about airports?
The TSA says new measures include stricter security procedures in terminals and around planes.
What other services will change?
Airlines have flexibility in meeting the new security requirements. Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways said it will suspend the self-drop baggage service.
Does this only cover international flights?
So far. But TSA has also stepped up security rules for domestic flights.
Over the summer, TSA began requiring domestic passengers in standard screening lanes to remove all electronics bigger than mobile phones from their bags and place them in separate bins for X-ray screening.
Worries over terrorism
The new measures came as President Donald Trump's administration is working to toughen controls on refugees and immigrants amid worries that jihadist groups like Islamic State and Al-Qaeda are both trying to send potential attackers into the United States and to smuggle bombs on board a US-bound flight.
On Tuesday, Trump issued an executive order ending a moratorium on refugee arrivals but re-imposing controls on those coming from 11 countries, most of them with Muslim majorities.
Last week US lawmakers from the House Homeland Security Committee visited airports in Europe and the Middle East to inspect security conditions and discuss counter-terror cooperation.
"The timing of this visit to Europe and the Middle East was critical, as terrorists remain intent on taking down aircraft," said Representative John Katko in a statement Wednesday.
"We must do all that we can to stay ahead of the evolving threat to the global aviation sector."
However, there is a dissent over the new measures' effectiveness.
“The part of the new measures I don't like is that airline personnel are being put back into the security screening process,” Jeffrey Price, an aviation-security expert at Metropolitan State University of Denver was quoted as saying by The Independent. Price opined that airline ticket agents aren't always the best at conducting security measures.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Oct 26, 2017 15:16:32 IST