US May Ban Online Check-in For Flights to the U.S.

The U.S. may have backed off the electronics ban for flights to the U.S.

But the price was that foreign airports would have to have new security measures in place to be dictated by the Department of Homeland Security.


TSA Agents in Charlotte Watch News of the TSA’s 95% Failure to Detect Weapons and Bombs, Instead of Searching for Weapons and Bombs (HT: Tocqueville)

Now comes word that DHS may have a new inconvenience of dubious security value in the pipeline: no more electronic check-in for flights to the U.S.

The US Department of Homeland Security may announce as soon as next week a series of revisions to check-in procedures outside the US that will set the airline world back 30 years.

An international carrier advised LNC of the following, revised procedures DHS has notified it that will be put in place between now and October.

The US government will not permit passengers to check-in online (or using an airline’s mobile app) or at kiosks. Every passenger will have to check in with a person so that they can be asked ‘security questions’ such as the ones that used to be required for all travel in the U.S. but were deemed ineffective:

“Did you pack your own bag? Has it been out of your possession at any time? Has anyone asked you to carry something onto the aircraft?”

Flying back from Paris earlier this year I was asked about my profession as well as what I had done during my travels. I was SSSS’d for the trip, and naturally concerned it would follow me on future travels but fortunately it didn’t.

Some passengers, after answering questions, will be

separated from his/her party — even if traveling with children for high-intensity screening in a separate holding area at the gate. The passenger will not be allowed to rejoin or communicate with the rest of the party until after boarding the aircraft.


Playmobil Security Playset

All passengers will have carry on bags tested for explosive particles. Leeham News suggests “the new measures take effect within 21 days through October.”

While this information reportedly comes from “an international carrier” that would be affected by the changes, we’ll have to wait to see if DHS moves forward with these new plans.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The only problem with this is that airlines are not staffed to handle major changes as discribed. This can only means major delays with longer check in lines. Perhaps you would have to arrive 4 or more hours ahead to be sure you would have enough time. Bottom line the government is going to do what they have to do and the passengers or airlines will have no say so. This could mean many leisure and even business passengers will put their travel plans on hold until they see how this all works. Not good for the overall industry.

  2. They miss the bombs and guns and make everything miserable for consumers. That’s our tax $$$ at work.

  3. As far as checkin: meh. I check-in at the counter for most of my international inbounds anyway. Wonder if anyone’s thought through what this means for connections to a US-bound flight from an outstation somewhere else. I mean if I’m flying BA/AA on say a VIE-LHR-DFW route is DHS/TSA going to trust that the BA contract agents at VIE have asked the questions? Probably not.

    Frankly the idea that every piece of hand baggage has to be explosive screened is likely to be more disruptive than an in-person check-in requirement. In most places it will likely happen at the gate, meaning I have to leave the lounge earlier, and likely resulting in delayed and unpredictable boarding time.

  4. We flew back from Paris this week. AAL e-mailed me the day before, encouraging an online check in, because of increased security delays at CDG…ironic much ?

  5. More TLiT over-reaction and histrionic whining.

    Sounds lie a step in the right direction towards a more effective safety protocol. Bravo. MAGA.

  6. This is brutal if you don’t check in luggage. Personally my intl trips are either biz trips where I roll with a small suitcase or a backpacking trip for vacation with a carry on sized backpack so I don’t have go deal with the check in counters and show up pretty close to boarding time. Hope this isn’t true.

  7. As far as I am concerned, it has been the case with me and UA for several years. Every time I tried to check in online or on the app for overseas flights from or to the US, I am given just a receipt saying I have to see an agent to get my boarding pass. And it is not just because of me as I am a frequent flyer with UA (1k), my passport has been on file for years and I have global entry. So maybe it is not happening with all the airlines but UA is enforcing this policy for several years already it seems.

  8. agree with michel above, annoying to a point that i stopped flying UA as a 1k and will fly a *a partner

  9. @ Steve

    If you have any interest in actual data rather than knee jerk right wing propaganda, you might be thanking your last 8 year administration for keeping you safe: you’re 129,000 times more likely to die in a gun assault; 407,000 more times likely to die in a motor vehicle accident; 6.9 million times to die from cancer or heart disease…than be killed by a refugee terrorist.

    I trust you think your taxpayers’ $100 billion per year against domestic terrorism is well spent under the blatantly incompetent current administration!

  10. @ Pete

    When the terrorists have created needless mayhem and unnecessary expense they have clearly won over the mindless reactions and vacuous counter measures that fool the ignorant

  11. The funny questions are nothing new. We have to answer those always after checking in at a kiosk and before dropping our bags at the bag drop counters. I am talking about flying from FRA to the US with Delta. If check-in via kiosk, mobile or online will be “prohibited” then those bag drop counters need to be relabeled as check-in counters 😉
    And of course lines will be longer, I guess.
    And it means I will have to wait until the day of flying to see if we will get TSA Pre or not. Okay, having TSA Pre printed on our boarding passed from our flights departing FRA is meaningless. And depending on our connecting airport in the US it is meaningless as well when there are no TSA PreCheck lanes.

  12. –Stupid Bush Administration put the current system in place.
    –Stupid Obama Administration added Nude-A-Scopes, unionized the TSA, and made it worse.
    –Stupid Trump Administration is banning laptops and changing checking in requirements making it worse.

    Overall, not happy with the TSA.

  13. As I noted in your other post, this plus biometric scans for flights to the US will bring the current transatlantic fares down from $350 in late summer to $250. Why is that? BECAUSE NOBODY WANTS TO PUT UP WITH SUCH S*** ON VACATION. It’s mind-numblingly insane. And all those currently half-empty aircraft underscore the existing insanity. Sure, go ahead and add a few more layers of numbskull bureaucracy. See what that does for the travel industry in USA…

  14. The back of my passport is covered with security stickers from LHR and I checked in online on many of those flights – and most of them were connecting flights. It’s not a one or the other process. If you want to ask security questions of everyone, you station someone at the gate, club, and ticket counter.

  15. As someone with a German passport on an H1B visa, about 50%+ of the time, the airlines don’t let me check in online anyway. At least the last two times with BA and AF the website tells me to check in at the gate because they have to check my passport.

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