Plane (almost) Go Boom

In Alaska Travelgram, Consumer by scott

What a mess. I trust, as a good traveler, you’re following the news feed from Detroit after the near-miss with the Nigerian wannabe-terrorist aboard the Northwest flight from Amsterdam on Christmas Day. Hmm.

First, we have a directive from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) which ramped up regulations regarding passenger movement around the plane in the final hour of flight, access to carry-on bags and additional personal searches and bag checks.

To review, here’s how the TSA initially reacted. These initial reactions, by the way, applied primarily to international flights in-bound to the U.S. Although there were sporadic reports of more restrictive policies in place for domestic flights, the international flights are the ones most affected:

a. Passengers must remain seated during the final hour before landing.

b. Passengers may not access their carry-on luggage during the final hour before landing.

c. Passengers may not have anything in their laps–and must surrender all pillows and blankets.

d. Passengers will be subject to thorough physical pat-downs at the boarding gate, with emphasis on the upper legs and torso.

e. Passengers will be subject to secondary physical searches of their carry-on luggage before boarding, in addition to the initial security screening at check-in.

f. Travelers from Canada to the U.S. are limited to one small carry-on only.

Note: Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air indicated they would waive some fees for baggage. Specifically, if a bag originally was to be carried on board, Alaska/Horizon would waive the charge in order to check the bag and accommodate this new security directive.

Naturally, the new directives were getting heavy push-back from travelers and security experts alike. Why is 60 minutes the “magic” number after which everyone must put everything up and sit with their hands in full view of the flight attendant?

UPDATE: As of today, according to Christopher Elliott’s blog, the TSA rules for in-flight behavior have been lifted.
a. IFE, wireless internet and moving maps are no longer needing to be disabled.
b. Passengers are no longer required to remain seated within one hour of landing at a US airport when leaving an airport outside the US.
c. Passengers are now able to have blankets, pillows on their laps and they can access their carry-on luggage inflight in the last hour.
AAAGGH. Stay tuned for more antics.

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