U.S. Bound Passengers From South Korea Informed To Be At The Airport Up To FIVE Hours Prior To Departure Due To Security Checks

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Passengers departing from South Korea to various destinations in the U.S. are being told to be at the airport as early as five hours prior to departure due to new security measures starting October 26th.

At the moment this only applies to departures of U.S. carriers where passengers will be subject to security interviews prior to check-in and boarding gate checks with the Korean carriers to follow.

Currently there is only definitive information that these new measure will apply to departures ex South Korea but it’s possible that this will expand to other global origins as well.

You can access the news from The Korea Times here.

Those planning to fly to the United States had better hurry to the airport early so as not to miss their flight.

Airlines advise them to arrive at least four or five hours earlier than the departure time beginning Oct. 26, since they have to go through a security interview at the airport amid growing concerns over terrorist attacks.

According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, Tuesday, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requested all airlines flying to the U.S. as well as its territories such as Guam and Saipan to strengthen security checks of passengers back in June. The TSA was established in 2001 following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. 

The security interview is the second phase of TSA measures, scheduled to be implemented from Oct. 26. Passengers going to the U.S. will be asked questions at the airlines’ ticket desks such as why they are visiting the U.S. , how long will they stay there, and where they will stay.

Anyone deemed suspicious during the interview will have to go through more thorough checking before they will be allowed to board. All passengers will also have their belongings reexamined before boarding.

The measure will first apply to American carriers such as Delta Air Lines and American Airlines as well as local low-cost carriers flying to the U.S. territories of Guam and Saipan. They are among the most popular tourist destinations for Koreans.

“Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, which operate numerous flights to the U.S. , have requested a delay for the implementation since they will have to relocate facilities when the second terminal of Incheon International Airport is completed,” the ministry said.

Terminal No. 2 is scheduled to be completed in January, which will lead to the relocation of the carriers. Korean Air will move to the new terminal while Asiana Airlines will move from the western to the eastern section of the current terminal.

While airlines recommend passengers bound for the U.S. arrive at the airport three hours before departure, they will have to add one or two hours to their calculation due to the toughened security check.

While this might be something new for South Korea departures, U.S. carriers have had this system in place for the past 15 years. American Airlines for example started to interview passengers prior to check-in just after 9/11 and it really didn’t add that much time to the entire check-in process.

That being said Incheon Airport is a disaster already during the morning departure bank between 8am-12pm. Lines for both security and immigration can be endless with no real Fast Track available unless for handicapped who receive a voucher and in cases where the airline gives you an escort.

Conclusion

There are plenty of reasons (mostly quality related) why I wouldn’t necessarily choose flying on a U.S. carrier but with these new measures I’d reconsider it even more at this given time. I doubt the extension of Incheon will be finished anytime soon so Asiana as well as Korean Air should be safe for a while.

At the same time I wonder why these measures are applied to departures ex South Korea. The country is probably one of the safest around with tight immigration and intelligence service.

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