How US Travel Security Measures Will Affect You

 

Keeping abreast of all the executive orders, new Obama-erasing regulations and proclamations (not to mention those never-ending “alternate facts” tweets) coming out of the Trump Whitehouse could give you a whiplash, so many just tune out.  Understandable.

However, if you travel to the U.S. on business or pleasure, you should be aware of a new set of security measures that took effect on October 26th for all commercial flights into the U.S.

Just to backtrack a bit, fears of terrorists smuggling bombs disguised as laptops onto airplanes prompted the U.S. last March to rush out a ban on electronic devices taken in hand carry-on luggage on flights from eight countries in North Africa and the Middle East.

But European aviation safety officials became alarmed about a large number of lithium batteries-powered electronic devices in the luggage holds of passenger aircrafts. Fires ignited by lithium batteries have been implicated in the downing of two cargo planes. The new set of U.S. security measures that took effect October 26th, replaces this ban.

Here’s how these new measures may affect you.  (We say “may,” because each airline has some flexibility in the implementation of these measures.)

  • You may be interviewed at check-in or the boarding gate. These interviews are supposed to be short, and to point regarding your itinerary and your luggage. Some airlines will just have a short paper questionnaire you will need to fill.
  • You might need to get to the airport earlier. Check with your airline if you need to arrive earlier than those 2 hours recommended up to now.  But, given the extra security measures, it might be wise to give yourself some more time, and to expect delays—planes will not be allowed to depart until security staff are certain there is no threat.
  • Your personal electronic devices might be inspected for suspicious social media accounts or content.
  • There may be a suspension of some travel conveniences—like self-check ins.

Each airline may have less or more restrictions implemented, so it’s best to call ahead and find out the specifics.  Or, you can just go with the flow and expect the unexpected, which is always a good attitude when traveling.  One thing is for sure though – that quick business trip to New York or Chicago will take a larger chunk out of your time than in the past.  At least you can spend that time productively working on your laptop on the plane.  For now.

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