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Airport Security

New Security Interviews for U.S.-Bound Flights Could Mean Longer Lines

Flying to the U.S. from abroad? Get ready for potentially longer check-in times and new security measures. Effective this week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will increase scrutiny on electronic devices travelers bring onboard.

DHS announced it would be heightening security measures back in June, after months of speculation that large electronic devices like laptops would be banned from aircraft entirely. Fortunately, that never materialized, and DHS instead announced some new, general procedures aimed at increasing security:

  • Enhancing overall passenger screening;
  • Conducting heightened screening of personal electronic devices;
  • Increasing security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas; and
  • Deploying advanced technology, expanding canine screening, and establishing additional preclearance locations.

Now, after giving airlines 120 days to prepare, the measures go into effect.

[st_related] Faster TSA Bag Scanners Are One Step Closer to Reality [/st_related]

DHS was deliberately vague when it announced the new measures in June, but it now appears the “enhanced overall passenger screening” includes traveler interviews. Multiple airlines said travelers should expect short interviews at check-in, security, or the gate, regardless of whether they are traveling with bags or not.

“As we move forward, TSA will continue to work closely with our aviation partners and verify that all security enhancements are accurately implemented,” TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein told USA Today. “As threats continue to evolve, we and our partners around the world, will continue to work together to improve intelligence sharing and standardize best practices, while also pursuing technological advancements that will make flying more secure for everyone.”

Coincidentally or not, the new security procedures arrive during a period of decline in travel to the States. Last month, the New York Times reported there were 700,000 fewer international visitors during the first quarter of 2017. European countries were down 10.1 percent, while Middle Eastern and African countries were down even more. The current administration targeted the latter group through several travel bans, not to mention the aforementioned electronics ban. Adding new, time-consuming procedures certainly doesn’t seem likely to help reverse that trend.

Readers, have you encountered any new security measures while traveling to the States? If and when you do, tell us about your experiences.

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By Carl Unger

Contributing Editor Carl Unger believes that every trip is worth taking. He loves an extended trip to Europe as much as he enjoys exploring the towns and landscape near home. Basically, you'll find him wherever there is good food, fresh air, and plenty of stories to bring home.

Carl has been writing for SmarterTravel since 2005. His travel writing has also appeared on USA Today and the About.com Boston travel guide.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "It's not revolutionary, but a small Moleskine notebook is my one travel must-have. It's great for noting things you want to remember and it takes up hardly any space in your bag."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "Japan. I'd love to take a month off and visit the cities, temples, and countryside. I'm fascinated by the country's juxtaposition of ancient traditions and modern ambitions."

Travel Motto: “Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” –Terry Pratchett

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Window."

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