Published: Sun, October 29, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Air India steps up security procedure for US-bound flyers

The stepped-up security rules include stricter pre-flight passenger screening in the form of short security interviews, as well as more rigorous checks on electronic devices - like phones, tablets, and laptops. A new procedure rolling out at airports across the country requires people in standard TSA checkpoints to remove all electronics larger than cellphones from carry-on bags for X-ray screening. Yesterday was the deadline.

Lufthansa and Cathay Pacific are two other carriers that are also advising passengers flying to the United States to arrive early at the airport. Air India is the only Indian carrier that flies to the U.S., both nonstop and one-stop via Europe.

SIA put up a notice on its website on October 25 to remind travel-lers of the tighter security screening, though The Straits Times understands that checks at Changi Airport were already intensified in July, soon after the United States announcement.

Korean Airlines President and Chief Operating Officer Walter Cho said, "We are asking customers to show up at the airport early ..." They argue the new TSA security protocols are neither. A sixth carrier, Royal Jordanian, said it would begin the new procedures in mid-January after U.S. authorities granted its request for a delay in implementing the measures.

"We therefore advise all passengers travelling to the USA to arrive at the airport three hours prior to departure to ensure they can proceed through all airport checkpoints in good time", Cathay Pacific said on a website posting. Previously, laptops had been banned in the cabin on flights originating in eight counties in the Middle East and North Africa. Travellers were told they had to check in the devices.

The new security measures come after the Trump administration previously rolled out a laptop ban and travel bans that have thrown the global travel industry into disarray. "We were already doing so by strict checking of passport and visas at check-in counters and also asking (some) passengers about the goal of their visit and baggage content".

The new rules also come at the end of a 120-day deadline for airlines to meet new United States regulations following the ban on laptops in airplane cabins of some Mideast airlines being lifted. Ultimately, it will have to be the passenger.

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