Due to a new security procedure being tested by the Transportation Security Administration at almost a dozen U.S. airports across the country, travelers departing from Detroit Metropolitan Airport will now be asked to place any electronic device larger than a cellphone into a separate bin for more intensive screening.
Darby LaJoye, the transportation agency’s Assistant Administrator for Office of Security Operations, told the New York Times that TSA’s main objective is to keep the public safe.
“T.S.A.’s top priority is to protect the traveling public, and every policy and security procedure in place is designed to mitigate threats to passengers and the aviation sector — which we know our adversaries continue to target,” he said.
TSA has stated it does not have immediate plans to implement this screening procedure at all airports.
In March, both U.S. and British officials banned laptop-sized electronics aboard direct flights from a group of countries located in the Middle East and North Africa. This ban was prompted by the release of intelligence stating terrorist groups have recently threatened to attack the U.S., as well as European countries, specifically through the use of bombs planted inside electronic devices.
These new tests are part of a heightened response at security terminals in airports around the world. On Monday, a suicide bomber, linked to ISIS, killed more than 20 people at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England.
Art & Design senior Abby Barrera, who is currently studying abroad, said she did not notice an increase in security after the Manchester attacks.
“After the Manchester attacks there weren’t really any differences in security like we were expecting when traveling to Ibiza today,” she said. “My friend got randomly selected for the swab and bag search but it was very quick and seemed very standardized. I also got patted down because I forgot to take bracelets off.”
However, LSA senior Maria Fabrizio noted that entering the UK required a much more intensive screening process than the other countries she visited over the course of the semester. She compared this procedure to an incident flying from Malaga to Stockholm where she accidently brought a wineopener through security, unnoticed by authorites.
“The woman who checked my passport and visa interrogated me and my roommate for a long time about what we were doing in Spain, what we did in the US, and about our very specific plans for our time in London, and various other questions,” she said. “This type of questioning seemed to be the norm for non-EU passport holders trying to enter the UK. It felt very hostile and was honestly the worst security screening I had experienced and that includes the time I went to Morocco this semester and Cuba over winter break. “
Regional TSA spokesman Mike McCarthy told the Detroit News the new program in Detroit Metro is part of an effort to speed up the security process, as overstuffed bags take longer to check.
Most travelers already remove their laptops from bags when they go through the security checkpoint. With the new regulations, they must place their electronic devices into their own bins, and not on top of other devices in a shared bin.
“We’re always enhancing or refining (the screening process),” he said. “It shouldn’t feel any different to the passenger.”
LSA junior Brandon Pope — who is also travelling abroad — explained in a message that traveling between European countries has been fairly easy, yet re-entering the UK prompted more questioning from officials.
“When I returned to the UK I was asked a few questions but with a student ID and passport it was easy to return,” he wrote. “I think the extra security/screening makes sense and was relatively quick. However I’m not sure how I feel about the extra measures in relation to civil liberties.”
Fabrizio noted although she has not had recent experience with the Detroit Metro secuity procedures, she believes intensive screening oftens deters crime through means of intimidation rather than actual effectiveness.
“As far as the Detroit Metro screenings, I honestly can’t say I’ve experienced them first-hand very recently,” she said. “I do know that based on various studies I’ve read over the years, many screening processes at airports seem like they’re more trouble than they’re worth. That is to say, their ability to deter crime is more a product of their intimidation factor than actual effectiveness.”