The US is Demanding Airline Security Changes in 38 Countries

There are 38 countries which are a part of the US ‘Visa Waiver Program’. This is a misnomer, because while a visa isn’t required passengers coming to the US get what in any other country would be considered a Visa only it’s called an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) and applying for it costs $14.

US ‘actual’ visas are more cumbersome and time consuming to obtain. It’s much easier to come to the US if you’re a citizen of a country eligible for an ESTA.

Here are the 38 countries: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and the UK.

Copyright: prestonia / 123RF Stock Photo

The US Department of Homeland Security announced on Friday that it’s imposing new conditions on countries in order for their citizens to remain to obtain an ESTA to visit the U.S.

  • Full information sharing, “systematically screening travelers crossing their respective borders against U.S. counterterrorism information” effectively turning control over who enters and leaves foreign countries to the U.S. government

  • Allowing the US to investigate and determine “effectiveness of safeguards against insider threats in the aviation security environment”

  • Requiring these 38 countries to develop a marketing campaign about how important it is not to overstay in the U.S. if the US determines that 2% or more of visitors from the country overstay.

In addition “DHS is also calling on Congress to codify existing VWP requirements” (i.e. make what they’re already doing legal).

• Reporting of foreign terrorist fighter information to multilateral organizations, such as INTERPOL and EUROPOL;
• Systematically collecting and analyzing passenger travel data (Advance Passenger Information/Passenger Name Records); and
• Concluding arrangements to permit U.S. Federal Air Marshals to operate onboard U.S. air carriers for last point of departure flights to the United States.

Copyright: andreyuu / 123RF Stock Photo

By the way no air marshal has ever stopped a terrorist or hijacker since the service was founded in 1962. Although an air marshal did shoot and kill a US citizen in 2005. If something really bad did happen on a flight and an air marshal was onboard they lack the training to do anything about it. They regularly commit violent crimes and forget their guns inside airports.

    Liam Neeson in 2014 film “Non-Stop”

But don’t worry, because the Department of Homeland Security ‘has assessed’ that they’re not doing anything which will “hinder lawful trade and travel.” And remember that it’s for your own good, everyone in these countries “will benefit.”

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. Stupid comment, that a air Marshall hasn’t stopped anybody… big part of security is prevention. The bad guys knowing that armed people are on board will make them think twice before trying. No security guard has ever stopped a bank robbery, but most people don’t even try because of them

  2. @CORNIQUEBABY – Google me and perhaps you will reconsider your opinion. What in the world is conservative about wanting a big and ineffective government?

  3. Corniguebaby, stop with the right wing insults. U and Trump, enough already and why would anyone want to look u up. Check your ego

  4. I’m good until Feb 2019 before I need to reapply. I have no problem with it being toughened up. The less people they let through the ESTA lines at immigration, the better. I get through just as quick as the Yanks do now, it’s great. Thanks President Trump. Obama cut the service right back and it used to take forever ( eg; IAH 3 hours 1 time, EWR took 2.5′, JFK was 2’10” ) to name but a few. Now IAH 15 minutes the other day, MIA last week 10″ and that was a flight coming in from the ME.

  5. Gary: Great article! I find it really sad that we can identify hairline fractures in bones, but the TSA can’t identify a bag of potato chips or a tablet.

  6. I question the effectiveness of the ESTA program. I recently filled out the forms for my visiting relatives from Spain. All the info was correct except their passport numbers. It was approved it a few days. I caught the mistake and applied again. Again they were approved in a few days. You’d think the first application would have been denied because it was a totally bogus passport number and the second denied because the information was the same except for the passport number. It’s just a revenue generation program.

  7. @ Joe Korn-talk about stupid comments, ” No security guard has ever stopped a bank robbery, but most people don’t even try because of them” has to rank at the top of the list!!! I am willing to bet the percentage of bank robberies committed have had “security guards” protecting that bank.

  8. It’s real simple….unless and until the US PAYS for all of these changes, these countries need to ignore the “directives” from outside their borders. Just stop visiting the US (which, of course, also means stop spending money in the US).

  9. I’m an American and I suggest each of the 38 countries tell the U.S. to go to hell. There’s no way on earth I would give the U.S. what it is asking for if I was one of those countries!

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