On June 28, 2017, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced new aviation security measures for all U.S.-bound flights, which will require airlines and airports to increase screening of passengers and all electronic devices.
The current laptop ban, issued in March 2017 for 10 airports, will be lifted. Security enhancements will be employed in 280 last-point-of-departure airports with direct commercial flights to the United States, in 105 countries around the world.
The security enhancements will be implemented in phases over the next several weeks and months, in response to recently evaluated intelligence indicating terrorist groups continue to target the aviation sector and are actively seeking ways to circumvent aviation security.
"The United States has seen a series of attempts on commercial aviation: A shoe bomber. Liquid explosives. An underwear bomber. A plot to detonate explosive cargo. Most of these were disrupted just in time and didn't result in the tragedy that terrorists were looking for," said DHS Secretary John F. Kelly in an address at the 2017 Council for New American Security Conference.
"However, we are not standing on the sidelines while fanatics hatch new plots."
The new security measures will be both seen and unseen by travelers, but passengers flying to the United States may experience additional screening of their person and property. Measures include, but are not limited to:
• Enhancing overall passenger screening.
• Conducting heightened screening of personal electronic devices.
• Increasing security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas.
• Deploying advanced technology, expanding canine screening and establishing additional preclearance locations.
DHS and the Transportation Security Administration will continue assessments of foreign airports and inspections of all airlines, to ensure all U.S. regulations and international security standards are being met at these airports. Stakeholders who fail to implement requirements run the risk of addition security restrictions, and ultimately jeopardize an airline or airport's ability to operate flights into the U.S.
The security measures will affect 180 airlines, and an average of 2,100 daily flights and 325,000 daily passengers.
U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President for Public Affairs Jonathan Grella issued the following statement regarding DHS' new security requirements:
"It is imperative that travel remain safe and viable. We're glad stakeholder engagement is progressing, as these matters are complex, the stakes are high, and we want to be a constructive partner on security. It's not just the travel and tourism industry that's affected by any new restrictions—it's our entire economy.
"Travel is the fundamental artery of trade and commerce for our country—and that artery is beginning to clog as a result of both perceived and actual security hurdles for travelers. We cannot push our travel system to the limit, or risk the unintended consequences of too heavy a burden on airports, airlines and travelers. We must ensure security at all costs, but our government also has an imperative to keep trade and commerce flowing.
"Once again, we urge the Trump administration to offset any limiting security messages and policies with a serious and sustained welcome message to legitimate travelers. The world must hear that we are closed to terror, but open for business."
U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger J. Dow notes the travel industry must work to ensure the new security policy is clearly communicated to those who must implement it abroad, but a "welcome" message must be shared broadly with international business and leisure travelers.
"Security and travel must coexist," Dow said. "Our industry's vitality and our country's economy depend on it."
Written by Cassie Westrate, staff writer for Groups Today. This article originally appeared on SYTA.org.