In June, the Department of Homeland Security gave an ultimatum to airports around the world: Beef up your security or face a ban on carry-on electronics on flights heading to America. Tomorrow is the deadline for those advanced security measures to be in place, so U.S.-bound travelers should prepare themselves accordingly.
Starting tomorrow, Oct. 26, 280 airports in 105 countries must have in place a set of new enhanced security measures — such as increased screening of electronic devices — for the estimated 2,000 daily flights traveling to the U.S.
In announcing the new restrictions in June, then-Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly (he’s now President Trump’s Chief of Staff) said the agency was raising “the global baseline of global aviation security.”
The measures — which were to take effect 120 days from the announcement — were put in place as the agency began to lift its previous laptop ban on airports and planes flying to the U.S. from eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
Ready For Delays?
While DHS did not provide specific details on the enhanced screening, the agency said it would lay out a “clear path” to encourage airlines and airports to adopt more sophisticated screening approaches, including better use of explosive detection canines and advanced checkpoint screening technology.
Additionally, the agency said it would encourage more airports to become Preclearance locations, where security is enhanced because passengers go through customs and border security screening before boarding flights to the U.S.
Consumerist has reached out to DHS for additional information on the new measures, we’ll update this post if we hear back.
Reuters reports that several airlines have put in the work to meet the still-unspecified security measures, increasing concerns that delays will begin to plague airports around the world.
For instance, Cathay Pacific Airways says it has revamped its check-in processes and suspended self bag-drop services. The airline tells Reuters that it will also have short security interviews for passengers traveling to the U.S.
As a result of the new measures, the airline is suggesting passengers arrive at the airport three hours before departure.
Similarly, Lufthansa tells Reuters that passengers should arrive at the airport 90 minutes before departure as they may face short interviews at the gate or check-in areas.
Singapore Airlines said it would deploy security questioning during the check-in process and boarding, Reuters notes.
While many airlines and airports say they are ready to meet the new security standards, they’re still confused as to why they are necessary at all.
When Kelly announced the requirements in June, he didn’t provide any details on whether or not there were new credible threats to U.S. flights.
The DHS’ FAQ on the new measures only notes that “recently evaluated intelligence indicates terrorist groups continue to advance multiple efforts to target the aviation sector and are seeking ways to circumvent aviation security.”
Alexandre de Juniac, CEO of the International Air Transport Association, tells Reuters that the way the new measures were introduced was “very strange.”
“Unilateral measures announced without any prior consultation… That is something that is very concerning and disturbing,” he said.
The group contends that such moves by individual governments could cause unnecessary disruptions and unintended safety consequences.
Still, if airlines want to avoid laptop bans, they must abide by the new rules.
Airports that do not cooperate with the new measures or are too slow to adopt them “could be subject to other restrictions—including a ban on electronic devices on their airplanes, or even a suspension of their flights to the United States,” Kelly said in June.
To determine if foreign airports are abiding by the new regulations, DHS will assess and inspect airlines. It’s unclear when these inspections will begin.
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