Both domestic and foreign airlines operating flights into the U.S. from more than 280 airports around the world will be subject to new passenger screening and security measures, both in planes and airports, a senior DHS official said. Laptops and other devices larger than cell phones will be allowed back on those flights if airlines follow the new rules.
Anyone flying to the United States from the nation's immediate neighbors -- Mexico and Canada -- will have to go through a new ream of security measures, as of Wednesday. Both WestJet and AirCanada have posted travel advisories warning customers to arrive at airports earlier to accommodate more time for security screenings. The advisories come in response to new enhanced screenings for travelers from Mexico and Canada, implemented by the Department of Homeland Security. SEE ALSO: This airport is already using facial recognition on U.S. citizens "WestJet strongly encourages you to arrive at the airport a minimum of two hours prior to your scheduled departure, to allow for additional screening time and ensure you don't miss your flight," the airline wrote. AirCanada echoed the sentiment in a similar advisory posted on their website.
We've been hearing for months that the TSA might increase domestic airport security measures this summer (they've already done so for international flights coming into the US), and now those procedures are here. The TSA is requiring "travelers to place all electronics larger than a cell phone in bins for X-ray screening in standard lanes." This program has been tested at 10 domestic airports and is now being implemented across the country. TSA Acting Administrator Huban A. Gowda specifically mentions laptops, tablets, e-readers and handheld game consoles as being subject to extra scrutiny. It's important to note that they don't specify size here; as phones get larger and tablets get smaller (not to mention laptops), it's unclear what devices the TSA considers "larger than a cell phone."
Homeland Security officials announced stricter passenger screening and other tougher security measures Wednesday for all commercial flights entering the United States, but said they would not bar laptop computers and e-readers in carry-on luggage as airlines had feared. The new rules will impact about 2,000 flights a day from 280 airports in 105 countries, a move that could make international flying more onerous just as the busy summer travel season starts. Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly told a security conference in Washington that the enhanced measures would be "both seen and unseen." He did not say when they will begin but said they will be phased in to give airlines and airports time to adjust. Kelly said changes will include tougher screening of laptops and other personal electronic devices at airports, more thorough vetting of travelers, greater use of explosive-sniffing dogs, expanded exchanges of terrorist watch lists, and new systems to help prevent insider attacks by airline employees.
The new requirements include enhanced passenger screening at foreign airports, increased security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas and expanded canine screening. They affect 325,000 airline passengers on about 2,000 commercial flights arriving daily in the United States, on 180 airlines from 280 airports in 105 countries.