Oct. 26 (UPI) — Enhanced airline security measures take effect Thursday that affect planes and travelers flying into the United States, and could lead to additional delays.
Enhanced screening of passengers and their electronic devices, prior to boarding planes, are included in the new security protocols. About 2,000 flights to the United States from over 100 countries — affecting about 325,000 passengers daily — are involved.
The new policy includes the possibility of interviewing passengers at the check-in counter or boarding gate.
The screening measures apply to all international flights headed for the United States, the Department of Homeland Security said in its June announcement. The new policy replaces a March ban, which was later rescinded, on laptop computers aboard flights from predominately Arab countries.
The ban was prompted by fears that explosives could be hidden in the computers.
With the rollout of the new policy, executives of Asian airlines called for enforcement of well-established standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization — instead of unilateral U.S. action that could disrupt air travel.
“Now you have destination-specific security, which adds complexity,” said Andrew Herman, Association of Asia Pacific Airlines director general, in a speech at the ICAO convention in Taipei. “Your on-time performance and efficient utilization of gates will be threatened. The question now is if it is sustainable and scalable with the growing passenger numbers here.”
Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airlines advised travelers to arrive at airports three hours before their scheduled departure times. Singapore Airlines advised passengers that their onboard electronic devices could be inspected.