Now Arriving: Enhanced Passenger Screening on US-Bound Flights

Thursday, October 26th marked the official first day of enhanced passenger screening on US-bound flights.

At the end of June, the Department of Homeland Security rescinded the electronics ban and replaced it with heightened security requirements. These requirements, which included advanced screening procedures and programs to reduce internal threats, would be phased in over several months. During that time, the DHS would work with the 180 airlines, 280 airports, and 105 countries impacted on implementation.

Airlines Conducting Enhanced Passenger Screenings

When the deadline arrived, several airlines announced their compliance with the newly active requirement. However, the methods each airline implemented to vet passengers varied across the board:

  • Air France is issuing written questionnaires to all US-bound passengers
  • Emirates is conducting pre-screening interviews; passengers flying out of Dubai will be interviewed at check-in counters, while transfer fliers will be questioned at the boarding gate.
  • Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd has suspended self-drop baggage services for those traveling to the US and will conduct short security interviews during luggage check.
  • EgyptAir, in addition to performing passenger interviews, announced that it will be conducting more thorough luggage and traveler searches.
  • The Lufthansa Group is holding brief interviews at check-in, document check, or at the gate.

Not all airlines have announced compliance details, but all airlines with US-bound flights must implement security checks or face penalties.

The US government gave organizations a 120-day deadline for adopting enhanced passenger screenings. Groups, like Royal Jordanian, could request extensions on implementation as long as US authorities approved security plans by the cutoff date.

Enhanced passenger screening applies to all travelers entering the US – whether US citizens or foreign visitors. This equates to nearly 320,000 travelers and 2,100 flights each day that will be impacted by the new measures.┬áTravelers should prepare for longer airport waiting times; several airlines including Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, and Delta Airlines, have urged affected travelers to arrive at least three hours before departure.

Domestic travelers can also expect longer wait times with the implementation of enhanced carry-on screenings. This development affects all national airports, and is currently being rolled out across the country.

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