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New Scrutiny of U.S.-Bound Airline Passengers

TSA PreCheck Booth, LaGuardia Airport, New Scrutiny of U.S.-Bound Airline Passengers

JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES

Homeland Security screening changes now affect 2,100 flights a day.

En español | U.S.-bound passengers on airlines around the world face more intense screening at check-in starting today because of new Trump administration regulations requiring all airlines to question everyone on the approximately 2,100 flights that arrive in the U.S. daily about the nature of their trips and what’s in their luggage. The rules also require airlines to increase security around airplanes and in passenger areas.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, there is also heightened screening of personal electronic devices at airports here and abroad. Security agents have begun asking travelers to take laptops and tablets out of carry-ons to be evaluated more carefully. 

Airlines are suggesting passengers arrive earlier — Delta has suggested up to three hours before their flights to the U.S. — to allow time to pass through security.

The rules were announced by Homeland Security at the end of June, giving airlines 120 days to implement them. 

The specific questions and procedures to “enhance overall passenger screening” is up to the airline, says Lisa Farbstein, spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration. “Every airline is going to do it a little differently.” The TSA provided the standard, she explains, then they had to submit their plan for approval before implementing it.

Her analogy: “If I say ‘Go sell popcorn,’ one person sells it door to door, one sells it from a food truck, one sells it from a store. We’re saying, ‘Do this whatever way works best for you.’”

Security standards simply need to be higher, she says. “Terrorists are still very focused on aviation. The threat is real.”

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