Since the attempted bombing of Delta/Northwest flight 253 over Detroit on Christmas Day, airport security has been turned on its head (once again). Here’s what business travelers need to know about security before heading out on another flight:
- Most increased security is on inbound-to-U.S. flights. The only changes you may notice for domestic U.S. flying are more frequent pat downs by TSA personnel as well as the possibility of random screenings of carry-on bags at the gate.
- Flights inbound to the U.S. from the U.K. are currently restricted to a SINGLE carry-on that must conform to normal size standards (one bag only…which means purses or briefcases need to fit INSIDE carry-on bags.)
- When returning from another country to the U.S., you will go through at least two security checks: First, when checking in for flights at the airline counter, be prepared for possible frisking, baggage inspection and questioning by the airline. Second, local authorities at airport security checkpoints will screen you as you make your way to the departure gate. There’s also the possibility of random checks at the departure gate, as well.
- Expect to see more frequent use of full-body scanners at the 19 U.S. airports that operate them. More international airports are said to be fast-tracking installation of these devices.
- Restrictions pertaining to on-board activities such as getting out of your seat or using electronics during the last hour of the flight that were mandated in December are now left up to cabin crew and are essentially no longer in effect.
REMEMBER: We’re in the midst of the slowest (or “dead weeks”) travel period of the year, so extensive delays or long lines will be uncommon. Despite reports to the contrary, you should not expect chaos at the airport. As a matter of fact, you could probably roll a bowling ball through airport concourses this week and not hit anyone!