Travelers on international flights to the United States may face longer check-in and boarding queues this week as new U.S. security requirements kick in.
The new security measures for U.S.-bound flights takes effect Thursday, part of an effort by the Department of Homeland Security to scrutinize electronics brought onboard commercial airliners.
Ahead of that deadline, at least four large global carriers said they have started new “security interviews” for all passengers on U.S.-bound flights. Those airlines said that has come at the request of the U.S. Other global airlines that fly to the U.S. will likely do the same.
This security measure is coming weeks after the US lifted the ban on electric devices on some airlines.
Airlines were given a 120-day deadline to meet all of the new regulations. That deadline arrives Thursday, likely leading to the warnings by global carriers of the new security procedures.
Vaughn Jennings, a spokesman for Airlines for America, a trade group representing most of the largest carriers, said airlines are working with the Department of Homeland Security to achieve the shared goals of enhancing security while minimizing the impact on travelers.
“While these are complex security measures, the flexibility provided by DHS has helped to ensure that carriers remain compliant,” Jennings said. “As always, the safety and security of passengers and crew is the highest priority for U.S. airlines and we remain committed to ensuring the highest levels of security are in place throughout the industry.”
Dubai-based Emirates said passengers flying to the U.S. on its flights would now face “pre-screening interviews” at its check-in counters for passengers. Also affected would be fliers connecting to the U.S. via its hub in Dubai. The carrier has advised customers to allow extra time for both check-in and boarding.
“These measures will work in complement with the current additional screening measures conducted at the boarding gate,” Emirates said in a statement.
Lufthansa, which has one of the biggest U.S. presences among European airlines, offered similar guidance.
“In addition to the controls of electronic devices already introduced, travelers to the U.S.A. might now also face short interviews at check-in, document check or gate,” Lufthansa said in a statement.
Cathay Pacific of Hong Kong offered a similar advisory, adding fliers checking in without bags may face similar interviews at the gate.
EgyptAir also issued an advisory to its fliers ahead of the Thursday deadline, with other airlines likely to do the same.
Homeland Security, which includes the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), announced the measures on June 28 to better detect explosives hidden in electronics and to thwart airport workers from smuggling bombs onto planes. At the time, the agency described the measures a new baseline for worldwide aviation security.
The measures apply to 180 airlines flying to the USA from 280 airports in 105 countries. About 325,000 people fly to the USA on 2,000 flights daily. DHS said in June that if airlines don’t meet the standards, they could face a laptop ban for carry-on and checked bags on flights to the U.S.