After yesterdays terrorist bomb attempt on a Northwest Airlines flight, it was only a matter of time until the government came up with new rules designed to “keep us safe”.
Air Canada has published these rules, though the TSA has not officially released them yet, so it remains a possibility that someone jumped the gun.
The new rules a going to be horrible to deal with – passengers will no longer be allowed to get up out of their seat for the final hour of a flight. You will also be prohibited from accessing your carry-on items during this period or from holding any items in your lap.
This is potentially a big one – it means you can’t use your laptop, read a book or magazine, or even grab a toy or bottle of water during the final 60 minutes of your flight. If true – this is a massive inconvenience for all passengers, all based off one terror attempt that should have been prevented if terror watch list measures had been properly followed.
International flights are already suffering from new carry-on measures, and passengers heading to the United States are once again being limited to one item of hand luggage – something implemented and lifted after the Richard Reid bomb attempt. Of course, since the Nigerian bomber had his bomb strapped to his legs, a hand luggage restriction seems rather useless.
In the coming days we’ll most likely hear more from the TSA on these new rules, and whether the “final hour” rule is indeed a new hassle we’ll need to deal with. Obviously, we’ll keep you updated when we hear more. In the meantime – if you are abroad, and plan to fly to the United States, be prepared for long delays and multiple security screenings.
Chalk this up to another win for the terrorists – even though they (thankfully) did not manage to blow anything up, they will once again forever change the way we travel.
UPDATE 2: For those wondering how Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab got past security, the explosive device apparently had no metal parts, and the individual pieces were sewn into Abdulmutallab’s underwear.
UPDATE 3: According to a memo from the TSA to US Airways, the TSA has ordered airlines to perform a “pat-down” screening of all passengers on inbound international flights, “concentrating on upper legs and torso.” Chris Elliott has the full text of the memo outlining the new security measures.
UPDATE 4: Inflight entertainment has been banned on all international flights.
UPDATE 5: Police take into custody a second person after report of suspicious activity on Delta/Northwest flight 253 from Amsterdam, only two days after the Abdulmutallab incident.
UPDATE 6: The “suspicious activity” by the second person, also a Nigerian, was locking himself inside the airplane’s lav. No actual explosive device was discovered on the flight.
UPDATE 7: As of December 28 at 8am EST, electronics are still allowed on international flights, despite reports to the contrary. As of this update, the TSA has not updated its website with anything more specific than,
Passengers flying into the United States from abroad can expect to see additional security measures at international airports such as increased gate screening including pat-downs and bag searches. During flight, passengers will be asked to follow flight crew instructions, such as stowing personal items, turning off electronic equipment and remaining seated during certain portions of the flight.
UPDATE 8: It looks as though the new international flight rules will be in effect through December 30, 2009. It’s unclear at this time if they’ll remain in effect into 2010.
UPDATE 9: Two passengers, “described as Middle Eastern, [who] were acting strangely and talking loudly to each other in a foreign language” were detained yesterday after a flight from Orlando to Phoenix. Questioning and a search of their belongings turned up nothing suspicious, and the men were released.
UPDATE 10: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano admitted this morning that airline security failed in allowing a Nigerian on a terror watch list and allegedly armed with explosives onto a Detroit-bound flight. This comes only 24 hours after her insistence previously that “the system worked.”
UPDATE 11: Our inside source in the industry now reports that inflight entertainment has been restored as well as the ability to move about the cabin inside of an hour to landing.