Spotty enforcement for new US air screening rules

by Erin McClam
AP News
January 4, 2010

On the first day of what was supposed to be tighter screening ordered by the U.S. for airline passengers from certain countries, some airports around the world conceded Monday they had not cracked down.

The United States demanded more careful screening for people who are citizens of, or are flying from, 14 nations deemed security risks. But enforcement of the U.S. rules appeared spotty.

“Everything is the same. There is no extra security,” said an aviation official in Lebanon, one of the countries on the list. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

The Obama administration ordered the changes after what authorities say was a failed attempt by a Nigerian man to blow up a jetliner bound from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said the enhanced screening techniques would include full-body pat-downs, searches of carry-on bags, full-body scanning and explosive-detection technology.
On Monday, passengers arriving on international flights reported they had been patted down individually, or had their luggage inspected by hand – steps that have been in place on many international flights since the failed bombing.

Passengers on a flight from Stockholm to Newark, N.J., were patted down and had their bags checked at the gate, flier Mark Biddle said. He said no passengers had been singled out for special attention.

In Nigeria, one of the nations on the U.S. list for additional security, there were long lines on the first day of the new rules. At the airport in the capital of Lagos, Mine Oniovosa, a 24-year-old student, said she had been told to show up more than seven hours ahead of time for a flight to Atlanta.

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