New restrictions are imposed on US air passengers

The NYTimes reports (behind registration firewall) that in the wake of yesterday’s attempted bombing of a flight to Detroit by a militant Vlaams Belang supporter Amish activist, new restrictions will be imposed on airline passengers entering the USA.

The government was vague about the steps it was taking, saying that it wanted the security experience to be “unpredictable” and that passengers would not find the same measures at every airport — a prospect that may upset airlines and travelers alike.

But several airlines released detailed information about the restrictions, saying that passengers on international flights coming to the United States will apparently have to remain in their seats for the last hour of a flight without any personal items on their laps. It was not clear how often the rule would affect domestic flights.

Overseas passengers will be restricted to only one carry-on item, and domestic passengers will probably face longer security lines. That was already the case in some airports Saturday, in the United States and overseas.

Two foreign airlines, Air Canada and British Airways, disclosed the steps in notices on their Web sites. The airlines said the rules had been implemented by government security agencies including the T.S.A.

“Among other things,” the statement on Air Canada’s Web site read, “during the final hour of flight customers must remain seated, will not be allowed to access carry-on baggage, or have personal belongings or other items on their laps.”

The suspect in the Friday attempt, identified as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab [NCT: looks like a typical Amish name, no? ;-)], 23, tried to ignite his incendiary device in the final hour of the flight while the plane was descending into Detroit.

The new restrictions began to be instituted Saturday on flights from Canada and Europe to the United States. Air Canada said it was waiving fees for the first checked bag, and it told passengers to be prepared for delays, cancellations and missed connections because of the new limits.

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