In response to terror threats against the United States, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has directed the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to implement "enhanced security measures" at "certain overseas airports," the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced last week.
"DHS continually assesses the global threat environment and reevaluates the measures we take to promote aviation security. As part of this ongoing process, I have directed TSA to implement enhanced security measures in the coming days at certain overseas airports with direct flights to the United States," Johnson said in a statement issued on July 2. "As always, we will continue to adjust security measures to promote aviation security without unnecessary disruptions to the traveling public."
On Sunday, TSA responded to Johnson's directive by announcing a temporary ban on uncharged electronic devices for travelers flying to the United States from the aforementioned "certain overseas airports."
"As the traveling public knows, all electronic devices are screened by security officers," TSA explained in a press release. "During the security examination, officers may also ask that owners power up some devices, including cell phones. Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft. The traveler may also undergo additional screening."
The travel industry today came out in support of enhanced screening by the TSA, but cautioned the government to maintain good communication with the public.
"The U.S. travel community's default position is that safety and security need to be the top priorities in air travel policy. If our national security apparatus has actionable intelligence on potential threats, we support near-term measures to mitigate any problems and ensure the uninterrupted functioning of our air travel infrastructure," said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. "We urge any and all relevant federal agencies to give travelers to the U.S. as much information as possible about what to expect and how to prepare for the enhanced measures. We and our private-sector stakeholders are doing the same."
Dow does not expect the TSA's measures to hurt travel-industry growth. "The traveling public is resilient and adaptable," he continued. "Through many similar threats in the past, inbound travel to the U.S. has always continued to grow, to a record 70 million visitors last year. If there is any disruption to travel volume at all, we expect it will be temporary and negligible."