As you probably know, there was an attempted terrorist attack on a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit over the holiday.
A Nigerian man named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to use a powder and liquid concoction to set off an explosion near the end of the flight but was subdued by some angry passengers that rightly deemed him to be threatening to their otherwise pleasant holiday flight.
Thankfully the most troubling part of this story is not the event but its aftermath. It’s all but expected that new security measures would be quickly enacted given TSA’s track record of reacting unproductively following terrorist incidents.
Based on a press release from Air Canada (which could very well have been accidentally leaked to the public) TSA had immediately initiated a series of absurd new rules targeted for the last hour of every international flight into the US, ones that hindered any relaxation you might have had at the end of a long flight: laps free of reading or entertainment items and no getting up whether it be to the lavatory or to access the overhead bins.
According to the Air Canada release:
New rules imposed by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration also limit on-board activities [such as], among other things, during the final hour of flight customers must remain seated, will not be allowed to access carry-on baggage, or have personal belongings or other items on their laps.
Fortunately, sanity seems to held fast in this case and the situation hasn’t deteriorated into chaos. Even though rumors are flying after the announcement about what is and what is not okay on board, TSA has let go of any official statement and are now being expertly vague about new rules and protocols, likely leaving it up to the flight crews to decide what is best.
Their website, previously stating a similar directive to that of Air Canada, having them limit passenger movement and prohibiting electronics, now only says for passengers to expect security delays. Of course this leaves the traveling public to wonder just what is going on.
For the time being, it appears that TSA has come to their senses and no draconian rules are currently in effect. Although other restrictions may be forthcoming. According to sources taking flights, things are operating fairly normally and the “final hour” rule has currently been deemed ridiculous redacted.
If you have a flight upcoming, it’s a good idea to respect the TSA statement and give yourself a tad bit of extra time when arriving at the airport, and to use patience getting through security checkpoint.
As of this morning, 12/29/09, Air Canada, and likely others to follow, is banning carry-on luggage on flights that terminate in the US. Please keep this in mind when packing, and don’t forget to take extra money for the checked bag fees!