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File photo of an Asiana Airlines plane.
SEOUL: Passengers leaving South Korea for the United States will be required to undergo stricter check-in screening from Oct 26, amid growing concerns about terrorist attacks, the Yonhap news agency reported on Tuesday (Oct 17).
"Local passengers who travel to the US using low-cost carriers are subject to a security interview at the airlines' ticket desks from Oct 26," Yonhap cited a ministry official as saying over the phone. Domestic low-cost carriers currently operate flights to the US territories of Guam and Saipan.
"The security interview also applies to passengers who travel to the US via Incheon International Airport. Airline staff will ask if passengers are carrying baggage that they may be carrying on behalf of someone else and whether or not they have booked a one-way ticket instead of the more common two-way reservation," the official said.
The move comes after US Homeland Security officials on Jun 28 ordered “enhanced security measures for all commercial flights to the United States”, saying air travel faced a “spider web” of threats from terrorists pursuing new attack methods.
These measures - both seen and unseen - will be phased in over time and include enhanced screening of electronic devices, more thorough passenger vetting, and new measures designed to mitigate the potential threat of insider attacks.
Airports and airlines that fail to comply could be subject to other restrictions — including a ban on electronic devices on aircraft, or even a suspension of their flights to the United States.
“Inaction is not an option,” Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly said back in June. “Unless we all raise our security standards, terrorists - who see commercial aviation as the greatest takedown - will find and attack the weakest link.”
The new order will cover about 325,000 passengers on the 2,100 flights that take off from 280 airports in 105 countries every day.
The Yonhap report also cited the official as saying that full-service carriers such as Korean Air Lines and Asiana Airlines have asked the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to delay the implementation of the security interview until the second terminal at the Incheon International Airport is completed in January next year.
"The airlines asked for the delay as it takes time for them to make preparations for the security checks," he said, adding Korean Air is scheduled to move to the second terminal and Asiana will remain in the existing Terminal 1.