After an attempted explosive attack Friday on a U.S.-bound flight, air travel security tightened and rules were changed. No official procedures have been announced, but here's what fliers and news agencies are reporting as the seemingly new rules of flying.
Photo by Joshua Davis.
The first thing anyone flying needs to know is that there are no hard and fast rules put into place at this time, and what you read or hear about at one airport may not be the case at another. The Transportation Security Administration wrote in a press release that "These measures are designed to be unpredictable, so passengers should not expect to see the same thing everywhere."
Most sources are reporting that the most stringent measures are implemented on flights entering the U.S. from foreign lands, including Canada. Air Canada posted on its web site that, during the last hour of a flight, travelers headed to the U.S. will have to remain seated, will not have access to their carry-on baggage, and cannot have anything on their laps.
American Airlines posted on its own site that anyone flying into the U.S. should allow three hours for the entire boarding process. Passengers and carry-on items would be screened both at security checkpoints and at airline gates, according to the airline.
What about domestic flights? As stated, the only predictable element is unpredictability. Gizmodo has posted audio recorded from a Jet Blue pre-flight announcement, indicating that the airline's notable seat-by-seat in-flight entertainment system would be shut down for a recent flight, along with in-flight Wi-Fi, presumably. In that post, and others, gadget-savvy readers and Twitter users have reported a range of restrictions and rules.
Some flights have banned electronic usage during the first and final 30 minutes of a flight, not including takeoff and landing periods, and others have restricted usage for up to an hour before ascent and descent. Some fliers have experienced pat-down searches and more thorough bag checks, and most flights seem to require passengers to stay seated during the final portion of a flight, regardless of bathroom needs. The Times reports (at the link below) that while blankets and pillows were being banned from passengers' laps just before landing, that rule seems to have been softened and left up to each airline.
Update: Gizmodo has posted the full text of a leaked TSA security directive, courtesy of the Boarding Area blog, that makes firm the ban on in-flight Wi-Fi, entertainment systems, and access to any and all carry-on luggage or devices one hour before landing.
Have you flown since Friday's in-flight incident? What was your experience, and how much more time did your flight experience take? Help fill in the blanks for everybody in the comments.