Check-In Procedures for International Travelers to the US to Get Tougher

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One goal of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is to raise the base level of aviation security worldwide using enhanced security measures at some 280 last-point-of-departure (to the United States) airports in 105 countries. At the end of last month, DHS issued new rules that require stricter screening of passengers for trace amounts of explosives, among other things.

Next week, DHS may announce stricter check-in procedures for international passengers flying to the United States. Aerospace industry analysts at Leeham News were told by an international carrier that the proposed changes will be implemented between now and October.

According to Leeham, the revised check-in procedures “will set the airline world back 30 years.”

Here are the proposed changes:

  • Kiosk and online check-in will no longer be allowed for U.S.-bound international passengers.
  • The new procedures also require that all travelers have their carry-on bags swiped for explosive residue.
  • A human agent will be required to ask each passenger the routine questions. (Did you pack your own bag? Has the bag been out of your possession at any time? Has anyone asked you to carry something onto the aircraft?)

Depending on the answers to the agent’s questions, this is what Leeham says may happen:

If the answers are deemed sufficiently high-risk, the passenger will be separated from his/her party — even if traveling with children for high-intensity screening in a separate holding area at the gate. The passenger will not be allowed to rejoin or communicate with the rest of the party until after boarding the aircraft.

Perhaps not unreasonable given the world we live in, but sure to cause longer lines and take a lot more time. Whether the stricter rules will affect travel to the United States remains to be seen.