Beginning on October 28, 2017, all travelers flying to the US are subject to enhanced security measures. The new security procedures will apply to US citizens and non-US citizens alike. Make sure to allow yourself plenty of time to check in for your flight when you come home to the States!
What are the Enhanced Security Measures for US-Bound Travelers?
The Department of Homeland Security announced in June 2017 that new airport security measures would be required for all international flights that will land in the US. Airlines and airports were given several months to come in to compliance, with a deadline of October 28.
The enhanced security measures include:
- Increased use of bomb-sniffing dogs and other screening techniques
- Detailed screenings of electronic devices like tablets and laptops
- Security interviews of travelers conducted by airline staff
Where are the Increased Security Measures Being Implemented?
No matter where you board your flight to the US, you’ll encounter new security rules. Enhanced security protocols are now being used at every airport around the world that sends flights to the United States. That’s a total of 280 airports in 105 different countries!
What Does the Enhanced Security Mean for Travelers?
The biggest impact that these security upgrades will have on you as a traveler is that it may take more time to check in for your flight. Airlines are recommending that you arrive at the airport at least three hours before your flight.
When you go through baggage screening, you should expect that your electronic devices will receive extra scrutiny. It’s best to take your phone, laptop, tablet, digital camera, and other items out of your bag. Put them in a separate bin for screening, apart from your bags, shoes, and jacket.
After you clear that initial screening, you should go directly to your departure gate. It’s a good idea to get to your gate with plenty of time to spare, as you may need to go through a security interview with an airline staff member. One traveler told us about her recent experience with an enhanced security interview:
“At the departure gate for our flight back to the United States, my husband and I had our names called over the loudspeaker and were asked to come up to the gate desk. There, an English-speaking airline employee told us we needed to go through a security interview. First, she looked at our passports. She asked us how long we had spent in the country and what was the purpose of our visit. The agent also asked us what cities we had visited. She seemed surprised when I rattled off our detailed itinerary! We had our children with us, so she asked their names and made us confirm they are our kids. After we went back to our seats, we saw other travelers on our flights being called up for interviews, too.”
Other Airport Security Changes
One piece of good news is that the “laptop ban” has been lifted now that the enhanced security measures are in place. The “laptop ban” was put in place in late March, after US and UK intelligence agencies determined that explosives could easily be hidden in electronic devices. If you were on a flight to the US from one of ten airports in the Middle East or North Africa, you were not allowed to carry on any electronic item larger than a standard iPhone.
In the US, electronics have also been getting increased scrutiny by airport security. When you go through TSA security at a US airport, you now need to take all electronic items larger than a cellphone out of your bags. Your laptop, camera, tablet, and other gadgets need to go in their own bin for x-ray screening. But there’s more good news for some of you! If you are a member of Global Entry, TSA Pre-Check, or other Trusted Traveler program, you can keep your devices inside your carry-on bags.