My first encounter with the new security for flights to the US

There are numerous reports of enhanced security being introduced on flights to the US, from yesterday. The new procedures appear to include more extensive questioning when encountering security staff, plus more checks at the gate.

I was flying from London to Philadelphia yesterday. Connecting at London is always a horrid experience, and American certainly added to that. I wasn’t aware that new arrangements were coming, and so the whole thing caught me a little off guard.

American has agents, but no check-in staff, at Terminal 5, so that you can deal with them before you get on the bus to Terminal 3.

I had expected the usual round of questions but they seem to have introduced some new ones – amongst those featured were:

  • Where did you fly in from?
  • Why were you there?
  • Who did you meet?
  • Why are you flying to Los Angeles (I was actually going to Las Vegas), I suspect this was a deliberate mistake
  • Who made your hotel reservation
  • Where are you staying
  • Why are you going there?
  • What will you be doing there?

I don’t remember much more, but this was the thrust of the conversation which went on 4-5 minutes; much longer than the previous version of the quiz.

I did get one where I could not immediately remember the name of the hotel, and the agent came back with ‘Why don’t you know where you are staying’. In fact it was because I had moved hotels last week when the rate got good at the property next door.

I managed to satisfy the agent and was off on the horrid bus journey to T3.

At the gate there were a lot – and I mean a lot – of people on the Security staff’s list – looked to be between 20 and 30, including passengers in premium cabins which I found to be unusual in the previous regime.

I’ll see if BA are doing this any different when I fly with them in a couple of weeks, but for now, my advice is to prepare of the quiz, and make sure you have your papers in order, in case you get asked.

 

Comments

  1. James ward wrote: “What possible security benefit can this possibly achieve?”
    In my opinion, none whatsoever. None. Zero. None.
    If the bad guys really wanted to do something they can figure out a way to do it.
    The people doing the “screening/interview” are not highly trained security personnel so the only bad guys they could realistically be able to catch are the ones who are imbeciles.

  2. Agree with Jason. This appears to be inspired by the truly excellent security screening at TLV, where the sole purpose of questions like this is to make someone lie (about anything). Once you lie, of course, then you get moved to a much more intense security screening. As Jason said though, this only works if the agents are highly trained in detecting lies. This is a waste of time.

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