Last month we got wind that that Emirates was going to institute a new security process for all their flyers going to the USA. Turns out they were not the only ones doing it. Every airliner flying to the USA today onwards (October 26, 2017) will have new security measures in place to ensure safety on American soil, as per regulations from the TSA.
Airline employees, today onwards, are bound to be questioned, American citizens as well as foreigners who are scheduled to fly to the USA, at their last point of departure to the USA. At least five airlines: Air France, Cathay Pacific, Egypt Air, Emirates & Lufthansa (along with group airlines Brussels, Austrian, Swiss) have confirmed the process is in place, while Royal Jordanian will also enhance the process in January 2018.
How these interviews happen going forward is still obscure. It could be another form or an actual face to face questioning by an airline employee and different airlines have put in place different systems.
Air France will institute new security interviews today at Paris Orly and on November 2 at Charles de Gaulle Airport. They will hand out a questionnaire to everyone on the flight to the USA. Emirates, like we already know, will do pre-screening interviews at their check-in counters for passengers flying from DXB, and boarding gates for the transfer passengers.
Cathay Pacific has suspended self-drop baggage services for passengers flying to the USA, and these passengers will be subjected to their security interview while checking in their luggage, or at the gates.
The new rules come on the back of a 120-day deadline for airlines to meet new regulations from the USA after they agreed to lift the ban on laptops in airplane cabins.
Not just that, there may be an additional heightened screening of personal electronic devices as well as stricter security procedures in airport terminals as well.
What is unconvincing about this whole effort is the fact that check-in agents are being put in charge of the process. I’ve over the years, transferring from Heathrow always been subject to a secondary questioning before collecting a boarding pass for a flight to the USA. And now, this would be a worldwide thing to do.
However, this is lip service, given people like you and me may not really be able to decipher the body language or any source of suspicion if there is one. Only a trained eye could look into that. And for those doing a questionnaire, err, imagine how long would it take to process those responses and then how much longer to take care of a threat if there is one.
While I’m sure there are other airlines also complying with the questioning process or at least working towards the new process, build in extra time now onwards to fly to the USA, because you may need to spend extra time when getting on that flight to the US of A.
What do you think of the new rules implemented?