I’m temporarily emerging from my holiday break to share this, some very unwelcome news…

Excerpted from the New York Times:

In the wake of the terrorism attempt Friday on a Northwest Airlines flight, federal officials on Saturday imposed new restrictions on travelers that could lengthen lines at airports and limit the ability of international passengers to move about an airplane.

The government was vague about the steps it was taking, saying that it wanted the security experience to be “unpredictable” and that passengers would not find the same measures at every airport — a prospect that may upset airlines and travelers alike.

But several airlines released detailed information about the restrictions, saying that passengers on international flights coming to the United States will apparently have to remain in their seats for the last hour of a flight without any personal items on their laps. It was not clear how often the rule would affect domestic flights.

Overseas passengers will be restricted to only one carry-on item, and domestic passengers will probably face longer security lines. That was already the case in some airports Saturday, in the United States and overseas.  (Emphasis mine.)

Click here for the entire article:  New Restrictions Quickly Added for Air Passengers

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7 Comments on Air travelers face new restrictions

  1. Michael W. says:

    According to early reports, the terrorist had powdered PETN in a plastic bag strapped or taped to his leg, and tried to mix in a syringe of liquid.

    If that was the attack method, I would expect a lot of pat-downs in the future, more use of body scan x-rays, and especial vigilance about liquids.

    Although the politically incorrect part of me thinks simple profiling would be more effective and less disruptive.

    Mostly it’s going to increase the vigilance/inspection factor, and in order to avoid delays I think we may not only see restrictions to a single bag (and, really, a SINGLE bag, not +personal +shopping) but reduction in the size limits from 44″ to 35″.

    According to early reports, it was solely the quick thinking of the other passengers that averted tragedy. Kudos!

    This doesn’t make me nervous about upcoming travel, but I AM reorienting to using a checked through wheelie with only a single small (Patagonia Lightwire Brief) for carryon.

    The days of one bagging carryon may be over; the days of airline charges for the first checked bag may also be over.

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  2. Michael W. says:

    Unfortunately I agree with the security consultant’s assessment of our reaction as mostly being “security theater”:

    “Bruce Schneier, an author and security expert, said he doubted the new measures would be effective. Unless searches include a person’s body cavities, he said, they can miss things.

    Schneier added that restricting someone’s movement and activity during the last hour of flight still gives a terrorist the opportunity to do something during the balance of the trip.

    “This is security theater,” he said.

    “We’ve always known you can strap explosive material to your body without a metal triggering device and get it on a plane,” he said. “You need to stop terrorists before they get to the airport.””

    From the LA Times this morning.

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    Kevin Reply:

    More like theater of the absurd!

    So… you can’t leave your seat for the last hour of the flight. What if the mad bomber goes to the lav 70 minutes before landing and preps his device? Will they then change it to 90 minutes??

    Utterly farcical!

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  3. Berg says:

    Funny how the people who fly the most seem to be less scared of terrorists than those who only fly once every five years.

    I think it’s a useful analogy that can also be applied to fear-based news and media that keeps people locked in their homes because they’re terrified of the world outside.

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  4. Michael W. says:

    Turns out the guy was known as a hazard, even his father warned our agencies, we almost lost lives because the “system” didn’t do it’s job. Meanwhile TSA wants to issue plastic zip ties to flight attendants so they can cuff each passenger to their seat for the full duration of all flights to prevent the risk of further incidents.

    I get it. Don’t exercise proper security screening on the front end, initially try to look blameless, then punish travelers some more so it looks like they are doing their job.

    Sheesh. Till, can you spot the parts that are true in this comment and which is the exaggeration? (lol)

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  5. Patrick F. says:

    I can tell you that I took a two-part international flight on Saturday, right after the attempt. I was taking tons of presents that I could only purchase at home in my carry-on bag(OPEC) and a netbbook that has a power supply that I was told looked funny when bundled in a plastic container, which is the way I packed it the last time I flew. All the other presents I bought online and had them shipped to my destination(I love Amazon.co.uk) But, I try as much as possible to fly out of the smaller airport in my region. There is a larger airport that is a 30 minute drive away, the flights are usually cheaper(but rarely non-stop to my destination). There was only one person in line in front of me and in total I spent around a minute going through the whole process. This is the normal for this airport and it was the regional leg of an international flight. So, nothing new there.

    When I reached my layover airport, I watched people go through the international screening and all seemed to be moving at normal speed(read: slow). But, there was one thing you could see. I saw the plain-clothed air marshal, because he stuck out like a sore thumb. This was really the only difference on my way out, as I have never had an air mashal on a flight that I have seen. This one was making it a point to walk around a lot, he also had one of the security earpieces as he walked around pre-flight. The flight attendants were walking around the plane WAY more, with only the intention of checking the passengers. It was an overnight flight and they walked around with flashlights, another first.

    Also, there was no “sit in your seat for the last hour” thing, but this may have been because we weren’t landing in the US.

    I have yet to come back through security, to note the changes there. Just thought I would update everyone on what I saw. Also, the same Orange afraidness level sign was posted outside the airport, that has been up for the 3 years I have been leaving out of it. I agree with the earlier post about those who travel frequently worrying less. I can only tell you that the thought never entered my mind before leaving and only family/friends talked about it.

    Apologies for the long post.

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  6. Kevin says:

    Patrick – Thanks; great comment.

    Here’s a NYT piece on the flap over Janet Napolitano’s comment about how the system worked: http://is.gd/5Fv6H

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