Here’s a copy of an email sent by TICKET reader P. Sinnott regarding her experience returning from Belgium on Weds, Dec 30. Remember that most of the TSA rules here apply to INCOMING international flights only. Most domestic flying remains mostly unchanged, except for heightened security at checkpoints. Many thanks to Ms Sinnott for this!
I flew back from Brussels Belgium to Atlanta yesterday (Dec. 30) on Delta and arrived at the airport three hours ahead of time for check-in.
ONE ITEM ONLY TO CARRY ON
At check-in in Brussels, the agent had to get special permission for me to carry on my roll-aboard only if I packed everything including my purse inside the suitcase, which I did. At security checkpoint #1 I was searched by hand including around the waistband of my slacks and over all my body. My luggage was unpacked and searched piece by piece.
TWO SECURITY SCREENINGS
Upon arrival at the Brussels concourse with Delta flights to the US there was a temporary barrier, many security agents and several roped off areas for lines of travelers. I had been warned at checkpoint #1 that I would be searched again at checkpoint #2. Although I had an invitation to the lounge I bypassed this and duty free shopping and went directly to the next checkpoint. At this second checkpoint ALL travelers into the US and their belongings were searched a second time. There were no screening devices, just individual agents (about 20) behind tables. Because I was early, there was no wait but lines grew increasingly longer as I waited in the departure lounge.
I did not notice any special onboard precautions. We were allowed blankets in our laps throughout the flights and all normal procedures for computers and other devices were observed. The captain asked us to remain in our seats about 30 mins before our landing in Atlanta, which is the normal procedure.
Atlanta and one other city (Memphis?) require tired travelers to go back through security again before entering the Atlanta airport. To me this is the most frustrating aspect of international travel into Atlanta and it has to add significant cost to running the world’s busiest airport. Are there plans to eliminate this frustrating delay? There is also concern about having to re-check baggage after customs. I personally know of several people whose bags made it to customs but when rechecked to baggage claim upstairs–ended up being stolen either by thieves or airport employees. [NOTE: This mess should be solved when the NEW international concourse opens in coming years.]
The screeners and other agents in Belgium were very courteous and efficient and made the best of a difficult situation. Surely the procedure I described will be modified as new US directives are made, but this is a recent report on the challenges of travel to the US.
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Can someone tell me why passengers have to recheck bags at ATL and MEM, especially if you are terminating your travel at these locations. Apparently these are the only two US airports that have this requirement.
Returned from business in Helsinki yesterday(Feb. 17) using a KLM/DELTA routing HEL-AMS-ATL-RSW business/first itinerary. Security screened at HEL, cleared EU Customs in Amsterdam then screened locally at Delta’s AMS departure gate, cleared US customs then twice screened at ATL (once due to declared tulip bulbs) – grand total of 4 security screenings in one day. Actually, ATL Hartsfield was the slowest process due to no Premium Elite/Business class line as AMS and other European airports offer so we had no ‘line advantage’. One interesting observation – the dichotomy between U.S. and European screening criteria. Required to remove belt but not shoes in HEL + AMS – not required to remove belt but always shoes in the US…
The Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal? I still can’t believe that will be the name of the new international terminal. . .a project mired in controversy, cost overruns and delays. His legacy will live on forever. Very scary.
Jim Jacobs says
The security check may only take ten minutes, but it may take one hour or more of waiting in line to get to the check point. I would guess that some people have missed connecting flights because of the redundant security. There has to be a way to allow arriving passengers to avoid a second trip through security and go directly to their departure gates.
Chip Fuller says
What an incredible spoiled species we are. We fly across oceans in only a few hours while we get served hot meals and cold drinks, watch movies, and cover distances that only a few generations ago would have taken weeks if not months, in discomfort. And yet people are still furious over having to go through a 10 minute security check upon entering an American airport. Give me a break!
Al Snedeker says
The new international terminal currently under construction at Hartsfield-Jackson will eliminate re-checks and streamline the entire process for returning international passengers. The Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal is scheduled to be complete in spring 2012. You can see recent construction progress on the airport’s YouTube channel, http://www.youtube.com/atlantahartsfield
P. Durbetaki says
There is a reason you have to go back through security after clearing Customs in Atlanta. Actually you have to do this at ANY airport when arriving internationally and having to go through Customs. When you retrieve your bag to go through Customs, you have access to its contents, including perhaps the set of kitchen knives you bought in France or the hunting knife you bought in Germany that were packed in your luggage. Commons sense tells you that you must go through security again before entering secure areas of the airport, right? It’s not just Atlanta. I do this every time I fly through JFK too.