Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The new old rules on airline security

What a time to take off 10 working days, trying to decompress and avoid being in constant contact with my fellow air travelers! There was no escape from the news bombardment we have all experienced over the failed terrorist plot on Christmas Day that could have destroyed a Northwest A330 widebody as it approached Detroit. (One random thought on the "panty bomber" effort: Unless the flight was on a highly unusual path, it happened in Canadian air space. Would that have made a difference? Likely not.)

The new old rules on airline security

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What a time to take off 10 working days, trying to decompress and avoid being in constant contact with my fellow air travelers! There was no escape from the news bombardment we have all experienced over the failed terrorist plot on Christmas Day that could have destroyed a Northwest A330 widebody as it approached Detroit. (One random thought on the "panty bomber" effort: Unless the flight was on a highly unusual path, it happened in Canadian air space. Would that have made a difference? Likely not.)

There would be no point to try to catch up now by posting older stories here about the incident. When I see news you can use from this point on, I will give you links. If you're flying this week, you need to know that after a series of fits and starts, the Transportation Security Administration has settled on some new, yet old, rules about getting on an airline flight -- just as we saw just after 9/11.

For domestic flights, little has changed. For international flights, expect much more scrutiny, including more full-body scans where the equipment is in place, or wanding and pat-downs of passengers (not just the 90-year-olds in wheelchairs). Today's biggest news, found here and on every other news outlet on the planet, is about mandatory use of the screening techniques for travelers from countries considered sponsors of terrorism. The TSA Web site (www.tsa.gov) has little useful information about the additional procedures beyond what has been posted on the site since Dec. 27.

Domestically, for a Dec. 31 flight, I noticed no change in security checkpoint procedures. The only difference was plenty of time for a sit-down lunch after getting to the airport three hours before the scheduled departure, and taking five minutes to clear security.   

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About this blog
Tom Belden has been reporting about Philadelphia International Airport and other air travel subjects for more than 20 years, writing columns for The Inquirer's Travel and Business sections. His reporting (with colleague Craig McCoy) on baggage handling problems in Philadelphia have been credited with helping to improve the system. His previous blog was called Road Warrior. He can reached at tbelden@phillynews.com. Reach Tom at tbelden@phillynews.com.

Tom Belden
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