Qatar Airways offers a glimpse of the new laptop security regime – USA TODAY
DOHA, Qatar â As the Department of Homeland Security ramps up airline security, I got a glimpse Wednesday of the new standards in place at Dohaâs airport for a Qatar Airways flight to the New Yorkâs JFK airport.
Iâd compare the new regime â at least in Qatar â to treating my individually screened laptop as if it were a duty-free purchase that I could keep with me in the cabin rather than check into the hold. Iâve even got the duty-free bag.
Qatar was among nine airlines that the department prohibited in March from allowing electronics larger than cellphones in carry-on bags aboard direct flights to the U.S.
The so-called laptop ban was a response to intelligence that suggested terrorists were finding better ways to hide explosives in electronics.
Then the department announced stricter screening measures June 28 for 180 airlines flying to the U.S. from 280 airports in 105 counties. The goals areÂ to detect hidden explosives and to thwart airport workers from smuggling bombs aboard planes.
John Kelly, the secretary of homeland security, said he was setting a new, worldwide baseline for aviation security rather than playing whack-a-mole with each threat.
Security officials didnât describe the new standards, other than to say that travelers could see more 3-D screening machines, more swabbing for traces of explosives among travelers and their belongings, and more bomb-sniffing dogs at checkpoints.
But airlines could also get off the laptop ban if they met the new standards. So far, seven of the nine airlines have been removed from the ban, includingÂ Qatar on July 6.
I connected through Doha on Wednesday. At the gate-side security checkpoint for my flight to New York, I had to remove my laptop and power cord for workers to swab them for explosives.
Then they sealed the laptop and the cord in a duty-free bag, where it had to remain until I passed through a gate-side security check for U.S. flights.
The process basically sealed up the laptop from the time I arrived at the checkpoint until I was inside the plane, which didnât cost much extra time. Cheers!