Implementation of Enhanced Security Standards for Flights Destined to the United States

October 26, 2017

 

On October 26, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began requiring airlines worldwide to satisfy new levels of security for flights destined to the United States. The enhanced security measures, which were designed "to raise the baseline of global aviation security to keep the traveling public safe, in coordination with our international partners," include explosive trace detection screening and enhanced screening of airline passengers and their electronic devices, which will likely add time to the flight check-in and pre-flight security processes.

U.S. and foreign travelers bound to the United States should contact their airline to determine if the airline has changed its recommendation on how soon before a flight passengers should arrive at the airport.

DHS announced the new security standards on June 28, 2017. Read the June 28, 2017 DHS Fact Sheet.

"These measures, both seen and unseen, include enhanced screening of passengers and electronic devices as well as heightened security standards for aircraft and airports...The enhanced security measures include but are not limited to:

  • Enhancing overall passenger screening;
  • Conducting heightened screening of personal electronic devices;
  • Increasing security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas; and
  • Deploying advanced technology, expanding canine screening, and establishing additional preclearance locations."

Over the course of the next several weeks and months, DHS/TSA will work with aviation stakeholders to ensure these enhanced security measures are fully implemented. Those stakeholders who fail to adopt these requirements with certain timeframes run the risk of additional security restrictions being imposed."

Also read Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly's Remarks for the Council for New American Security Conference. Airlines and airports were evidently given 120 days to revise their procedures to incorporate the new DHS standards, and October 26, 2017 represents the end of that implementation period.

The standards were developed in part to avoid expanding restrictions such as the in-cabin ban on electronic devices larger than a smartphone, which had been placed on 9 airlines at 10 airports in the Middle East, on March 21, 2017. That restriction, which required that "all personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone or smart phone be placed in checked baggage at 10 airports where flights are departing for the United States," was gradually lifted as each airline/airport came into compliance, until the ban was finally lifted on 10 airports by July 21, 2017.

As a condition of avoiding similar restrictions being imposed in the future, though, the United States required all 180 airlines and more than 280 airports around the world that serve as "last points of departure for commercial flights to the United States," to come into compliance with the enhanced security standards by October 26, 2017.

Airlines that fail in the future to satisfy the new security requirements could face the imposition of conditions such as the prohibition of in-cabin electronics and other restrictions.

Resources

DHS Fact Sheet: Aviation Security Update for Last Point of Departure Airports. June 28, 2017.

DHS Speech: Remarks for the Council for New American Security Conference. June 28, 2017.

DHS Q&A: Q&A: Aviation Security Enhancements for Select Last Point of Departure Airports with Commercial Flights to the United States. Updated July 21, 2017.