New Security Measures For US-Bound Flights From Asia Coming Next Week?

Filed Under: Security/TSA

In late June we first learned about new security measures being introduced for US-bound international flights. With the increased risk of terrorism to aviation, the government wants to do more to prevent it (well, other than actually have a professional airport security force in the US, as the TSA continue to miss 95% of weapons in tests).

Not surprisingly, when these new security measures were announced, the Department of Homeland Security wasn’t especially transparent in sharing what this would entail, though they said that it could include some of the following:

  • Enhancing overall passenger screening;
  • Conducting heightened screening of personal electronic devices;
  • Increasing security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas; and
  • Deploying advanced technology, expanding canine screening, and establishing additional preclearance locations.

While we haven’t known exactly what many of the changes are, we have gotten some notice about the dates as of which many of these policies are being implemented. For example, as of July, the US instituted additional security measures for flights from Canada and Mexico.

Well, it looks like we can soon expect additional security screening on flights from Asia to the US. While I’m not sure how widely applicable this is, The Korea Times reports that airlines are advising US-bound passengers to arrive at Incheon Airport at least 4-5 hours before departure starting October 26, 2017. That’s probably way overdone, but the idea is that something new is being implemented as of then.

Here’s what the story suggests is changing:

The security interview is the second phase of TSA measures, scheduled to be implemented from Oct. 26. Passengers going to the U.S. will be asked questions at the airlines’ ticket desks such as why they are visiting the U.S. , how long will they stay there, and where they will stay.

Anyone deemed suspicious during the interview will have to go through more thorough checking before they will be allowed to board. All passengers will also have their belongings reexamined before boarding.

The measure will first apply to American carriers such as Delta Air Lines and American Airlines as well as local low-cost carriers flying to the U.S. territories of Guam and Saipan. They are among the most popular tourist destinations for Koreans.

So it looks like we’ll now see security interviews when departing Asia, much like we see when departing out of certain European airports. I can appreciate the concept of security interviews on departure, as it’s something that Israel has done incredibly effectively. However, I don’t get the same sense of skill and professionalism when being interviewed on a US-bound flight. That’s not because of the individuals doing it, but because of their lack of training.

For those departing Incheon Airport, apparently this additional questioning won’t initially apply on Asiana and Korean Air, as they’ve requested a deadline extension because they’re relocating terminals.

So while this is only being reported out of Korea as of now, I see no reason Korea would be singled out, and this wouldn’t apply to other gateways in Asia as well. I guess we’ll see next week.

  1. Are the airline ticket counters going to open 5 hours before the flight now? Or will people be showing up 5 hours early so they can hang out in the terminal waiting for the counter to open? I think all 3 US carriers use contract agents at ICN who probably care a lot less about this than those working the flights in Israel

  2. I flew UA SIN-SFO a few weeks ago, and had to go through the interview to get a boarding pass. They checked at the gate to interview pax who had printed their own bps.

  3. @funtraveler, In SIN, all US bound flights always need to be interviewed before getting to the counter regardless of you have boarding pass or not. Then another security checks with questions, scans and search at gate too. Has been this way for years, therefore it’s best to get to gates alittle early as they will start boarding process even if there’s still a line in the gate security checks

  4. Yvonne, I think the interview and enhanced security for SIN is only random. Not everyone have to go through it (solo traveler tend to be more likely get selected). The new measure in Korea seems to be blanket for everyone.

  5. Dotard policy from an effing moron administration. Because so many illegal Mexican ISIS come from Korea. What a waste of time and money.

  6. I always felt that the FIS and ICTS interview screening in Europe is kind of pointless, but then again I’m obviously not an expert in that sort of thing. I’m sure they have their reasons. If the process in Incheon is the same, I see no problem with it.

    Incheon is incredibly efficient, I don’t think I’ve ever waited on physically longer lines for security than at Incheon, but man do they move quickly. 4-5 hours seems like overkill for this sort of thing, and I’m sure they’ll find a way to make it as painless as possible pretty quickly.

  7. Flew to EWR from Hong Kong on United this past Monday and went through a pilot of the new program. Airline asked people to line up at boarding earlier and border patrol came by and asked each passenger a series of questions. Took about 3 min per passenger. I talked to the supervisor and he told me this was a new TSA mandate for all outbound flights to US.

    Then after scanning tickets and before boarding the plane, the usual checks on carry ons were done, but this time, they specifically asked to see all electronics including cell phone too. May have added 30 sec to their usual checks.

  8. A few months ago I had an option to book our winter trip to the Caribbean or Australia. I chose to fly to Atlanta on BA First Class (Atlanta because of 787) and we’ll head to the sun from there. The other option was e.g. Sydney on Qatar. We thought that going to Australia on a two-week trip would be too much flying for such a short trip.

    With all the BA bed bugs, US security scams and whatnots I feel so not interested to fly BA’s glorified business class at all, visit the US, or pay overpriced everything for the holiday season.

    The best part of the trip will be the car rental, ugh.

  9. It’s intereting. I was departing HKG for SFO on Wednesday and the United employee said they needed to conduct the interview prior to boarding, but they never did. They did however search my bag a second time on the jet bridge and made me throw away my liquids that I had purchased in the airport past Security. I wonder if that is standard or if that is part of the new screening.

  10. This has been going on for a long time, and not just in Asia. Note all the comments above.

    A few weeks ago, I was flying from Europe to the USA (BRU to ORD on UA). I had connected from Prague, and I had a boarding pass for the BRU-ORD leg from my original check-in in PRG. As we lined up to board the BRU-ORD leg, they asked if anyone didn’t have a NEW boarding pass that was issued there in BRU. I waved mine, they pulled me out of line, told me I needed a new boarding pass, then “interviewed” me (seemingly random questions about where I lived, what I did for a living, where I was coming from, tell me about your trip, etc.).

    This is not new. Yet one more example of how this blog’s so-called “experts” are disconnected from the real world.

  11. @Brian, my experiences for the past few years from SIN-US flights by AA or Delta, sorry I’ve not flown United. There will always be 4-6 little stands set up for interview by the Singapore police before you get in the line for the check-in counters. They will ask:
    how many person traveling,
    Your final destination in US,
    If your not US citizen, they will ask for your green card or other related travel documents,
    how many bags you have,
    who and where you packed the bags,
    then they will hold up a small poster asking if you have any of the items in your bag, From the time you packed your bags till now where has your bags been, anyone tamper with your bags or accept any particles from anyone to take it in for them
    Last but not least they will tell you to not accept anything from anyone
    Sign on a piece of security paper and hand it back to you with your passports and the documents you given them
    What class you travel in
    Direct you to the line for check-in

    I remember all those questions because I do it too many times over the years. It’s not random interview but they have a line set up to direct you for the interview.

    At the gate, the usual screening, laptops and electronics out. Give you a number tag for your items. They may request some to turn on their laptops, maybe now they will ask everyone with laptops to do that, go through the detector, then you may be randomly ask to step aside for more checks, return the number tags and take your items.

    Some of the above may have changed but past few years that had been my experiences each time from sin-us

  12. Yawn, this garbage was common in latin america for years.

    Who packed your bags
    Have they been with you the entire time
    Did anyone ask you to carry someone for them
    What electronics are in your bags
    etc etc

    Fly frequently and you can pretty much go “me, yes, no, yes, nothing, no, no” by memory every time

    Havent flown to GRU or EZE in years so unsure if this crap is sitll in place.

  13. interesting viewpoint Petri.
    I tend to find the best part of my trip is everything in between the flying (doesnt matter how good the first class is).

    But each to their own

  14. jjj, i got “did you pack your bags yourself” when i flew from the uk to denmark and I live in the uk lol

  15. Isn’t this great for the US tourist industry? DHS is exploiting the dotard’s paranoia to gain more relevance and, likely, funding. Incheon a gateway for terrorists du jour? North Koreans? However, the likeliest source of danger for the US are its allies in the Middle East via Europe thanks to blowback for Western murder and mayhem.

  16. London asks the dumbest questions. Has that EVER foiled an attack?
    also….Korea….hmmm why would anyone think there needs to be increased security on US bound flights….not like North Korea has ever tried terrorism….

  17. Maybe we should have more security since apparently a lot of people don’t like us as much as they used to .
    ” Paranoia runs deep …”

  18. This makes me thankful that we are flying from ICN on Korean Air on the 26th and not an American carrier. *whew*.

  19. I flew two days ago from ICN and it looked like they were preparing for it, they had a sheet asking questions like ‘did you pack your own luggage?’ In 3 or 4 languages.

  20. This is for every airline in the world’s US-bound flights. The way it is being reported in Korea is deceitful at best in favor of KAL and Asiana… They suggest it is for low cost carriers operating to the US (which intended or not, changes consumer perception and will drive some to choose one of the full service carriers instead.

    The reality is that it is for every carrier and those that say they are not affected are just not capable of implementing (unlike almost every other major full-service carrier in the world). Even if they aren’t implementing in full effect, they’re still being required to implement alternate procedures. Very shady that even the Civil Aviation authority in ROK would make a statement targeting low cost carriers are imposing this burden rather than a business-neutral statement that all carriers are impacted.

  21. We just flew out of Seoul to the US last week. We began our trip in Vietnam and had a connection in Seoul. We had over 3 hours to make the connection. We were unaware of any change in security as we had been traveling the previous month. The transfer process (unlike previous transfers in Seoul) were chaotic, confusing and irritating.
    First of all, our carrier, Delta, failed to inform us of any change. Second, while waiting to board, we were approached by a Korean woman wearing a badge and demanding that we submit to an “interview”. The “interview” consisted of invasive questions like how long we had been gone, where we had gone, what hotel we had stayed at – but no questions pertaining to our return to the US (we are over 70 years of age). She seemed to be asking questions only of those holding US passports. My husband politely declined to participate in the “interview” and she marked his boarding card with an orange marking pen.
    When boarding started, AFTER we had gone through the gate, my husband was pulled aside and not allowed to board until he had submitted to a physical search.
    We were given no explanation as to why these procedures were in place.

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