Homeland Security announces new security protocols for international flights to US
Moodboard/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Instead of expanding the laptop ban, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has mandated new security measures for foreign flights headed directly to the United States, Secretary John Kelly said Wednesday.
“Terrorists want to bring down aircraft,” Kelly said during a conference in Washington, D.C. “They still see aviation as the crown-jewel target.”
“However, we are not standing on the sidelines while fanatics hatch new plots,” he said. “We have the opportunity to raise the baseline of aviation security globally.”
The updated protocols include “enhanced screening” of passengers and their electronic devices, as well as “seen and unseen” security around the aircraft and inside the airport, according to DHS. The updates affect 280 airports in 105 countries running about 2,000 flights daily — adding up to 325,000 passengers every day.
If airlines can’t, or won’t, implement the new procedures, they will be banned from transporting personal electronic devices to the United States in both the cabin and the cargo hold.
But carriers at the 10 foreign airports already affected by the laptop ban — instituted in March and unilaterally barring large personal electronic devices from the cabin, but not the cargo hold — will have those restrictions lifted if they implement the new measures.
The new requirements come amid a “web of threats to commercial aviation” as terrorists work toward smuggling explosives onto jets inside laptops or other electronics, according to DHS.
“We cannot play international whack-a-mole,” Kelly said Wednesday. “It is time that we raise the global baseline.”
Officials declined to outline specifics of the procedures, citing security concerns. But passengers may notice more swabbing of passengers’ hands and luggage in the gate area to test for explosive residue, sources told ABC News.
Updates will be phased in over the next few months, sources said.
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