New screenings for US-bound passengers on global airlines
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Five global long-haul airlines will begin new “security interviews” of all passengers on U.S.-bound flights beginning Thursday at the request of American officials, the companies said Wednesday.
Long-haul carriers Air France, Cathay Pacific, EgyptAir, Emirates and Lufthansa all said they’d start the screenings. However, the airlines offered different descriptions of how the interviews would take place.
It wasn’t immediately clear if other global airlines would be affected, though the Trump administration previously rolled out a laptop ban and travel bans that have thrown global airlines into disarray.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, it comes at the end of a 120-day deadline for airlines to meet new U.S. regulations following the ban on laptops in airplane cabins of some Mideast airlines being lifted.
Air France said it will begin new security interviews on Thursday at Paris Orly Airport and a week later, on Nov. 2, at Charles de Gaulle Airport. It said the extra screening will take the form of a questionnaire handed over to “100 percent” of passengers.
Emirates said in a statement it would begin doing “pre-screening interviews” at its check-in counters for passengers flying out of Dubai and at boarding gates for transit and transfer fliers. It urged those flying through Dubai International Airport, its headquarters, to allow extra time to check into flights and board.
“These measures will work in complement with the current additional screening measures conducted at the boarding gate,” it said.
Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. said on its website that it had suspended self-drop baggage services and that passengers heading to the U.S. “will be subject to a short security interview.” Those without bags would have a similar interview at their gates.
EgyptAir said in a statement the new measures include more detailed searches of passengers and their luggage and interviews. The strict procedures will extend to unauthorized agricultural or veterinary products.
Germany’s Lufthansa said the new rules came from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, which is under Homeland Security.
“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.
In March, U.S. officials instituted the ban on laptops in airplane cabins across 10 Middle East cities over concerns Islamic State fighters and other extremists could hide bombs inside of them. That ban was lifted after those airlines began using devices like CT scanners to examine electronics just before passengers board airplanes heading to the United States.
That laptop ban, as well as travel bans affecting predominantly Muslim countries, have hurt Mideast airlines. Emirates, the region’s biggest, said it slashed 20 percent of its flights to America in the wake of the restrictions.
It wasn’t immediately clear if other Mideast airlines were affected by the new rules.
Abu Dhabi-based Etihad said its operations “were normal” without elaborating, while Doha-based Qatar Airways did not immediately respond to a request for comment.