I was almost booted from a Christmas 2014 flight from London to New York for refusing to answer questions posed by airline staff (not customs) about what I would be doing in my “destination” (a.k.a., my home), and I was clearly told that failure to participate in their “security interview” would result in denied boarding. After the flight, I sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, who encouraged several foreign-flagged airlines at several “airports of interest” to implement these policies. The U.S. government immediately backtracked, saying in court that interviews were not mandatory and could not result in denied boarding — that these airline employees were mistaken.
That front has been quiet for the last year or so, until the media yesterday reported that airlines are increasing security for U.S.-bound flights starting today, including “security interviews:”
New security measures including stricter passenger screening take effect on Thursday on all U.S.-bound flights to comply with government requirements designed to avoid an in-cabin ban on laptops, airlines said.
Airlines contacted by Reuters said the new measures could include short security interviews with passengers at check-in or the boarding gate, sparking concerns over flight delays and extended processing time.
As it would be trivial for someone with bad intent to invent a story about where they were going, or simply leave off the part of their plans that involves blowing stuff up, the airlines are, apparently, displeased with this nonsense:
“We see this as a big issue for China Airlines,” Steve Chang, senior vice president…
It’s just inconvenient for the passengers,” [Korean Airlines] President and Chief Operating Officer Walter Cho told Reuters in Taipei.
“Unilateral measures announced without any prior consultation… That is something that is very concerning and disturbing.” [Alexandre de Juniac, CEO of IATA (International Air Transport Association)]
So what happens when a passenger refuses to participate in the security interview this time? Well, it just so happens that I’ll be on an inbound flight quite soon, so we’ll see, as I certainly won’t be participating, and I guarantee a lawsuit in 24 hours or less if denied boarding.
Update: DL inbound flight today, “interview” consisted of making sure I packed/watched my bags. Nothing new here except it was asked at the gate. Will look forward to hearing experiences by other travelers.