Detroit terror attack: 25, 000 passengers hit by delays at British airports

Tens of thousands of people flying to the US for the New Year break have been forced to endure delays of up to three hours after strict new security rules were imposed overnight in the wake of the attempted terrorist attack in Detroit.

by John Bingham, Alastair Jamieson, and David Millward
Telegraph [UK]
27 December 2009

Up to 25,000 people were caught up in the disruption at British airports on Sunday as airlines scrambled extra staff to cope with demands from US authorities which were kept deliberately “unpredictable” to wrong-foot terrorists.

Hand baggage restrictions last imposed in the wake of the liquid bomb plot in 2006 were back in place on most flights to America while security staff were ordered to conduct full body searches for every passenger at departure gates.

But the most stringent restrictions came as aircraft entered US airspace, with passengers confined to their seats for the last hour of their flight, banned from having access to books, newspapers or even blankets or pillows.

Passengers were warned to expect the restrictions to remain in place “indefinitely”.
With pilots ordered to switch off “moving maps” throughout the flight in an effort to conceal the exact locations of their aircraft from potential terrorists, passengers on some Virgin flights on Boxing Day were warned to buy books as in-flight films and other entertainment systems were also being disabled for the entire journey. In-flight entertainment had been restored by Sunday.

First and business class passengers on BA flights with flat beds were ordered to fold them up as they entered US airspace while elsewhere access to lavatories was also restricted, according to passengers’ accounts posted online.

Meanwhile travellers arriving at British airports from the US told a similar story of delays and restrictions.

The article continues at the Telegraph.

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