After an attempted explosive attack on a US-bound flight Friday, air travel security tightened and rules were changed. No official procedures were announced, but here's what fliers and news agencies are reporting as the standards for US fliers the time being.
Photo by Joshua Davis.
The first thing anyone flying needs to know is that there are no hard and fast rules put into place at this time, and what you read or hear about at one airport may not be the case at another. The Transportation Security Administration wrote in a press release that "These measures are designed to be unpredictable, so passengers should not expect to see the same thing everywhere." And as with previous security measures (such as the "don't congregrate near toilets" rule), the major impact is on flying into or within the US — there's no notable shift so far in domestic flights in Australia.
Most sources are reporting that the most stringent measures are implemented on flights entering the US from foreign lands, including Canada. Air Canada posted on its website that, during the last hour of a flight, travellers headed to the US will have to remain seated, will not have access to their carry-on baggage, and cannot have anything on their laps.
American Airlines posted on its own site that anyone flying into the US should allow three hours for the entire boarding process. Passengers and carry-on items would be screened both at security checkpoints and at airline gates, according to the airline.
Some flights have banned electronic usage during the first and final 30 minutes of a flight, not including takeoff and landing periods, and others have restricted usage for up to an hour before ascent and descent. Some fliers have experienced pat-down searches and more thorough bag checks, and most flights seem to require passengers to stay seated during the final portion of a flight, regardless of bathroom needs. The Times reports (at the link below) that while blankets and pillows were being banned from passengers' laps just before landing, that rule seems to have been softened and left up to each airline.
Have you flown since Friday's in-flight incident? What was your experience, and how much more time did your flight experience take? Help fill in the blanks for everybody in the comments.