US Will Dictate Security Procedures to the World in Exchange for Keeping Full Access to US Air Markets

The US Secretary of Homeland Security has a list of demands for countries around the world, and unless those demands are met he’s going to impose an electronics ban on their flights to the U.S.even though many of his demands have nothing whatsoever to do with an imminent threat of passengers hiding explosives in their iPads.

  • 70 countries are being considered for an expanded electronics ban

  • They can avoid being put on the list if they comply with Secretary Kelly’s demands

  • Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke was sent to Malta to brief European countries on the commitments they would need to make

There’s a list of “seven, eight, nine, 10 things” that will have to be agreed to in exchange for continued access to U.S. markets without the crippling effect of an electronics ban.

  • More information sharing with the US government about passengers — apparently beyond even current full details included in reservations, including passport information.

  • “enhanced testing” (screening) efforts

  • new efforts “to combat the insider threat from employees, like those who handle the baggage.”

  • While the claim has been that the threat was immediate and real, and so swift action necessary, the US is demanding things that have nothing to do with combating threats (electronic or otherwise) today.

    Indeed, some of the items on the list are “moderately long, some of them are long-term,” things that must be done off into the future — a promise to buy new technology that doesn’t even exist yet.

Secretary Kelly says that the 10 airports that are part of the original electronics ban could have their ban lifted if their countries comply. Of course the logic of that ban was nonsense, since

  • Abu Dhabi’s US preclearance facility meets US security standards and involves direct oversight by US personnel

  • Emirates flights from Dubai could fly to the US without a ban by stopping in Athens and Milan

  • Determined terrorists could depart Dubai and connect in Baku, Azerbaijan and on to New York with their electronics

  • Lagos, Nigeria wasn’t included in the ban, nor myriad cities in China with direct U.S. service

  • Canada, Australia, and most of Europe did not adopt their own ban despite information-sharing and even cajoling by the U.S. The U.K. adopted a far more limited ban.

Terrorists Can Circumvent the Laptop Ban by Flying Dubai – Baku – New York JFK instead of Emirates Non-stop, copyright: nordroden / 123RF Stock Photo

The idea that Abu Dhabi’s security places it on the list when US officials monitor audio and video inside the preclearance lounge is absurd. The notion that the ban is justified by an imminent threat, yet countries are being threatened with the ban unless they make promises to buy theoretical technology in the future, is even more surreal.

It puts the lie to the claim that officials are pursuing policies directly tied to real and immediate concerns rather than leveraging the harm that would be done to others’ economies (without regard for the harm that would be done to the US) to advance their own agenda — and without regard for the very danger the ban puts on aircraft as demonstrated by the recent JetBlue flight where electronics caught fire.

Airline executives are afraid to speak out but they really need to. At the same time the status quo actually benefits the largest US airlines at the expense of passengers.

(HT: JT Genter)

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, 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. Truly bizarre paranoia. Seems to me jihadis prefer stealing trucks and cars and mowing people down anyway. London/Manchester/Nice.

  2. Agree to our ineffective security protocols or we’ll subject you to trade sanctions that would otherwise get us into trouble with the WTO.

    It’s not even that they flout the law and norms of behavior, so much as it’s that they’re either so bad at it or they assume so much stupidity amongst the populace.

  3. Well, as long as you have power you are entitled to yell loudly “follow my rule or perish!!!”. But would an educated person having power doing such thing? Is there any other way thow how much power in more ‘educated’ way?

    For the terrorist, a couple of well trained dog disguises as ESA would be more effective than a semtex in size of ipad or macbook air…..

  4. I’m not a security expert, and have no access to classified information not available to the general public, so I’ll withhold judgment on the meits of this proposal.

    Though I’m more inclined to give Secy. Kelly the benefit of the doubt than I am a “thought leader…” travel blogger. Just sayin’…

    As for the “crippling effect” of such a ban, I’ll remind you that there was worldwide aviation before there were laptops, smartphones, etc. We managed. Companies managed.

  5. The ban is physically dangerous. Putting electronics in baggage where a fire can’t be put out is akin to putting a gun against ones head. This is not just inconvenience it is bullying

  6. It’s a vast conspiracy orchestrated by Russians. They had a secret meeting with the director of homeland security at the Nashville /Pittsburgh game 5 to work out the details. Those hockey players weren’t hockey players – they were actually secret Russian agents. That’s why Nashville got spanked. The Russians are trying to drive all the other airlines into bankruptcy so Aeroflot can rule the skies. The special prosecutor is on to their dastardly scheme. Stay tuned!

  7. When will everyone recognize that the “electronics ban” and these continued threats to ban electronics is not about actual security threats but is actually a bait and switch way to try and prevent Muslim entries into the USA. This is the Trump administration’ backhanded attempt to reinforce the Muslim ban it already has tried and failed to implement. Why do you think the 10 counties currently banned are all in Muslim countries…despite there being US security preclearance faciliites for some?

  8. The same kabuki as much of post-911 domestic airport security. Designed to make the administration look like it is doing something, even give those in charge the feeling they are doing something, when by any rational measure it is ineffective and costly. I can only assume this is designed to make the USA look tough and to make the public (most of which don’t fly internationally) feel like we’re “standing up” to the bad guys. Fixing the real risks is hard. This theater is easy, especially when the costs are externalized to passengers and the USA+world travel industries.

  9. I am pretty sure Kelly and the TSA are annoyed that in many countries you don’t have to go through all the security theater – just legitimate security – that he enforces and seeks to propagate. I can only hope Congress will wake up when a disastrous fire hits a plane were electronics are kept in checked baggage. Security for flights headed to the U.S. is already far more intense and intrusive than it is for other flights within a region that have no U.S. destination. Last week I boarded a U.S. bound flight and my boarding pass was scrutinized exactly seven times (I counted). Maybe it was only seven times since I was connecting airside from another flight.

  10. Did everyone notice transatlantic fares on Delta for AUGUST are still available at circa $350 r/t? That was posted on SecretFlying yesterday. Which isn’t so secret.

    In plain English that means PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO VISIT ‘MURICA and so planes are going over and coming back with tons of empty seats during the busiest summer month.

    Drumpf your administration has been greeeeaaaaat for business. *NOT*

  11. “Secretary Kelly says that the 10 airports that are part of the original electronics ban could have their ban listed if their countries comply.”

    I am assuming you are saying “..could have their ban lifted if…”?

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