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What Do The Heightened Air Security Measures Mean For You?

Hanishi Ali

In light of the December 25th incident, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which governs security on airports and on airplanes in the United States, issued a directive and has implemented new security measures, effective January 2010.

This new directive requires passengers flying into the United States from anywhere in the world who hold passports issued by or traveling from or through nations that are state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest be required to go through enhanced security screening which includes a full pat-down and extra scrutiny on carry-on baggage. The new security directives also increases the use of enhanced screening technologies and mandate threat-based and random screening for passengers on U.S. bound international flights.

The four countries that have been classified as state sponsor of terrorism are Cuba, Sudan, Syria and Iran. The other 10 countries of interest are Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen.  Passengers from other countries not listed as state sponsors or countries of interest could also face enhanced or random screening. 

If you have flown in the last couple of months, you have certainly seen or experienced heightened security at airports and on airplanes.  Not only have most airlines have limited carry-on baggage to one bag and one personal item such as a backpack, purse, or laptop but many airlines are now requiring passengers to remain seated in the last hour of flying time and mandating that passengers cannot access carry-on baggage, or have personal belongings or other items on their laps. This means that if your flight is 90 minutes or less you may not be able to leave your seat at all or for that matter access your personal belongings!

Also, the new security measures require airlines for all flights departing from any foreign location and traveling to the United States to have passengers go through secured areas for additional security before boarding, in addition to the normal screening.

The security measures and guidelines that were in place before January 2010 , such as the Liquid 3-1-1 rules, and standardization of acceptable identity documents continue to exist, and will be enforced.  All this heightened security has taken the joy out of air travel and made it more cumbersome, unpredictable, and stressful. What can you do as a passenger to get through the security line faster?


1.       Arrive on Time;

2.       Avoid wearing loose or bulky clothing;

3.       Avoid covering your head and face (unless for religious reasons) --  avoid wearing a hat or sunglasses;

4.       Avoid wearing too much jewelry that might set the alarm off on the metal detector;

5.       Pack an organized carry-on-bag and layer clothes and electronic items;

6.       Do not wrap gifts;

7.       Follow the liquid rules: 3-1-1 for carry-on;

8.       Pack coats and jackets in your checked baggage;

9.       Do not pack oversized electronics (laptops, full-size video game consoles, DVD players and video cameras that use cassettes) in your checked baggage when possible;

10.   Look at the prohibited item list on your air carrier’s website and make sure not to carry them;

11.   Wear slip on shoes to make it easy to remove and put through the X-ray machine;

12.   Avoid belligerent behavior, inappropriate jokes, and arguments.


Hanishi T. Ali is an attorney at Mithras Law Group, a Westborough based immigration and international business law firm. Hanishi can be reached at 617-500-3233 or at www.mithraslaw.com.  Firm Blog at: http://immigrationinfo.wordpress.com/ on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/immigrationinfo


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