Airport Security: Has Australia’s Heightened Terror Alert Changed Anything?

With Australia’s terror alert currently on “high” (but with no “specific” threat) you might think that Australia’s airports would adopt a US-style heavy checking regime. So far, though, that doesn’t seem to have happened.

Baggage picture from Shutterstock

With a trip to the US from Sydney this week, I was curious to see whether or not that heightened alert had made any changes to passenger experience when travelling through immigration and customs, and how it reflected the experiences you have in the United States, where airport screening is a quite involved process. (Quick disclaimer: I travelled to the US as a guest of HTC.)

This is obviously just anecdotal, not long-term data. Just throwing that out there early on.

In any case, changes in our terror alert level don’t seem to have changed a single thing at Sydney’s International airport.

Scanning and checking was much as it has been over any given trip I’ve taken, with the only notable difference being that this was the first time that I’ve had a tablet spotted during an x-ray scan and mistaken for a laptop, although I’m fairly sure that was because it was sitting in a keyboard case.

Otherwise, however, while it still pays to allow time to pass through customs and immigration, because queue lengths can vary, as can the needs of people ahead in that queue, there’s no obvious signs of any additional measures being implemented.

Comparatively, travelling into the US is still a much more measured experience, with the expected shoe removal, extraction of all laptops and tablets (as specified to me by a US Homeland Security operative) from bags, and full body scans.

The effectiveness of airport screening is still a highly contentious topic, but in terms of ease of travel, Australians and travellers moving through our airports still do have it good in comparative terms.

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