Following yesterday’s reports, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released new airport security rules aimed at avoiding expanding the laptop ban to additional airports. As previously reported, DHS has said that if the 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa currently under the ban adopt the new measures, the ban could be lifted, although there is no word yet on how long that would take.
In a statement announcing the new measures, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly said that the new security measures will be applied over time to all commercial flights coming into the United States, and will include elements both visible and invisible to passengers. New procedures will include enhanced screening of electronic devices, more thorough passenger vetting, and new measures designed to mitigate the potential threat of insider attacks.
“Terrorist groups continue to target passenger aircraft, and we have seen a ‘spider web’ of threats to commercial aviation as terrorists pursue new attack methods,” the DHS said in an FAQ for travelers on its website. “Based on these concerns, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is working with our international partners to raise the baseline of global aviation security to keep the traveling public safe.”
Good to know: The DHS said that the new rules do not involve changes to items allowed in carry-on and checked baggage. However, passengers flying to the U.S. may experience additional screening of their person and property.
Travel Industry Response
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said it welcomed the decision as an alternative to expanding the laptop ban.
“Keeping our passengers and crew safe and secure is our top priority,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, in a written release. “This creates a natural partnership with governments, which have the primary responsibility for security. Today’s actions raise the bar on security. The aggressive implementation timeline will, however, be challenging.”
Airline trade group Airlines for America (A4A) urged the DHS to work collaboratively with airlines and airports to implement the new measures.
“We recognize and share DHS’s commitment to addressing threats to aviation security. U.S. airlines not only share that commitment, but have substantial, practical expertise on these matters as we work every day to protect our passengers, crew, aircraft and the public,” said A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio. “While we have been assured that carriers will have the substantial flexibility necessary to implement these measures on a global scale, we believe that the development of the security directive should have been subject to a greater degree of collaboration and coordination to avoid the significant operational disruptions and unnecessarily frustrating consequences for the traveling public that appear likely to happen.”
U.S. Travel Association EVP for Public Affairs Jonathan Grella said that the new measures should be paired with a welcoming message for travelers.
“It is imperative that travel remain safe and viable,” Grella said in a written statement. “We’re glad stakeholder engagement is progressing, as these matters are complex, the stakes are high, and we want to be a constructive partner on security…Once again, we urge the Trump administration to offset any limiting security messages and policies with a serious and sustained welcome message to legitimate travelers. The world must hear that we are closed to terror, but open for business.”