Yesterday the United States’ 112th Congress’ 2nd Session passed S. 3542, the “No Hassle Flying Act of 2012” , which is now being sent to the White House to be signed into law by The President of the United States.
Before you get excited that the U.S. Congress has done something to reduce the hassle of commercial air travel in the United States, take a moment to learn what the No Hassle Flying Act of 2012 addresses …
An Act To authorize the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security (Transportation Security Administration) to modify screening requirements for checked baggage arriving from preclearance airports, and for other purposes.
What exactly is a “pre-clearance” airport? Let me clear that up for you
‘(B) AVIATION SECURITY PRECLEARANCE AGREEMENT DEFINED- In this paragraph, the term ‘aviation security preclearance agreement’ means an agreement that delineates and implements security standards and protocols that are determined by the Assistant Secretary, in coordination with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, to be comparable to those of the United States and therefore sufficiently effective to enable passengers to deplane into sterile areas of airports in the United States.
So to sum this up … what does the No Hassle Flying Act of 2012 cover? It allows the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) the ability to determine if a checked bag arriving from a pre-clearance international airport must be rescreened prior to being placed back on a commercial flight after arriving in the United States, following a “domestic arrival” from an international flight into the United States.
Presently, passengers and baggage arriving into the United States from a foreign airport with pre-clearance, or a foreign airport staffed with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (US CBP Agents), are treated as a “domestic” arrival once it arrives in the United States.
If a flight arrives from an airport that does not have pre-clearance, or US CBP passport control and customs, checked baggage must still be picked up by passengers arriving in the United States and pass through U.S. Customs where bags may be stopped, opened and searched by Customs Agents. Additionally, the TSA retains the right to require checked bags to be rescreened based on their own on location determinations, regardless of pre-clearance.
So, where are these “pre-clearance” airports passengers can seek out for their travels to the United States? Canada, Ireland, Aruba, Bermuda, The Bahamas … and possibly Abu Dhabi in the future. Flights from these airports (well not Abu Dhabi yet) arrive in the United States as if they were domestic flights. For passengers entering the United States from a non-preclearance airport, which is the vast majority of foreign airports serving the United States, bags must still be picked up, carried through Customs, and delivered back to the TSA for screening.
Passengers and carry on bags will also still be required to be screened by the TSA before transferring to U.S. domestic flights. This does not change under the No-Hassle Flying Act of 2012.
So … this bill might as well be named the “There Is No Change In Hassle of Flying Act of 2012″ …but the title of the Act sure does sound good, doesn’t it?