TSA asks foreign airports to tighten screening

Transportation Security Administration asks foreign airports to tighten screening of U.S.-bound passengers’ carry-on electronics.

Ben Ariel,

Airport (illustration)
Airport (illustration)

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is asking foreign airports to tighten screening of U.S.-bound passengers’ carry-on electronics and adopt U.S. domestic security procedures instituted last year, according to officials and a memo to foreign airports cited by Reuters on Thursday.

Amid growing concerns about the possibility of hidden explosives, the TSA began stricter scrutiny of electronic devices by U.S. travelers last summer.

In 2017, the U.S. imposed a ban on electronic devices bigger than mobile phones on direct flights from 10 airports in seven Middle Eastern countries and Turkey.

In July of that year, TSA began requiring domestic air travelers to remove all electronics larger than mobile phones including tablets, e-readers and video game consoles from carry-on baggage for screening. The new memo said the agency wants foreign airports now to adopt those procedures, according to Reuters.

Foreign airports are also being asked to adopt TSA policy, instituted in mid-2017, that passengers may be required to remove food, powders and other materials “that can clutter bags and obstruct clear images on the X-ray machine,” the memo said.

“The United States is seeking to collaborate with foreign governments to declutter carry-on bags and strengthen security effectiveness at your central checkpoints,” the TSA said in the memo to foreign airports, government agencies and other entities that was read to Reuters.

U.S. officials said the security enhancements were not the result of new threats.

The memo is aimed at addressing screening of passengers from 280 airports in 105 countries flying to the United States. In total, about 325,000 airline passengers fly to the United States daily on 2,100 flights.

In March, the TSA ordered more stringent inspections of air cargo from five Middle East countries, citing a June 2017 attempt in Australia to bring down a plane as evidence that extremist groups continue to target civilian aviation.

It said at the time it ordered seven airports in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to provide advance data on U.S.-bound air cargo to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for vetting before the cargo is loaded.

U.S. authorities in June 2017 also ordered increased security around aircraft, in passenger areas and other places where travelers can be cleared by U.S. officials before they depart as well as additional use of explosive trace detection testing.