Jim Rink (313) 336-1513
On August 10, 2006, British police announced the arrest of several individuals in connection with a major terror plot against airlines traveling from Britain to the U.S. As a result, the U.S. government elevated its terrorism alert to Red, the highest level for flights originating in the United Kingdom bound for the United States. Additionally, the threat level for all commercial aviation operating in or destined to the U.S. has been raised to High, or Orange. Travelers have been prohibited from taking liquids of any type into the airport beyond security check points. This has resulted in slowdowns and passenger anxiety at some security checkpoints across the U.S.
How will the heightened security measures impact AAA members?
Travelers face tighter security restrictions and longer lines because of rules imposed by U.S. and British officials. Travelers are advised to arrive at the airport three hours in advance for international flights and two hours in advance for domestic flights.
What is prohibited in my carry-on bag?
The new rules ban almost all liquids and gels from being taken aboard flights. That means you should not carry: sunscreen, lotion, perfume, hand sanitizer, shampoo, toothpaste, hair gel or beverages. Those items must be put in your checked luggage if you want to take them along when you travel.
You can still bring baby formula, breast milk or juice if you're traveling with a child; prescription drugs if your name is on the bottle; and insulin or other "essential" non-prescription medications.
Are the rules different in the United Kingdom?
If you're on a flight leaving the United Kingdom, there are more restrictions: You will need to check ALL luggage — that means no carry-ons whatsoever — and every passenger will be hand-searched at security checkpoints. Only a few personal items, such as wallets, glasses, medications and travel documents, are permitted, and a bag used to carry those items must be plastic. On flights to the USA, passengers will be searched again at the gate before they board.
Do the rules in the UK also apply to flights from the USA to the UK?
There is some confusion among the airlines on this subject. American Airlines says the restrictions apply to UK-bound flights, some other airlines say they do not. We are working now to clarify this.
Are there any exceptions to the new rules in the USA?
A few. You can still bring baby formula, breast milk or juice if you're traveling with a child; prescription drugs if your name is on the bottle; and insulin or other "essential" non-prescription medications. Screeners should not make you sample the liquids.
Can I still bring medicine along if it's not in liquid form?
If I forget to remove liquids or gels from my bags before I get to the security checkpoint, what happens?
Screeners will ask you to put them in a checked bag or give them to someone who isn't traveling. Otherwise they will be confiscated.
What should I do if the screeners overlook something?
If your toothpaste or hair gel inadvertently makes it through a checkpoint, authorities recommend you turn it in to a security officer. You won't necessarily get in trouble for having it, but it could cause concern if other passengers see it.
Am I allowed to purchase toothpaste or other liquids after I get through security and then take them aboard the flight?
No. You are not allowed to carry aboard anything liquid aboard your flight no matter when or where you purchased it.
Besides the liquid and gel bans, what else will be different about security?
The TSA says screeners will be checking passengers more thoroughly at checkpoints, including inspecting more bags by hand. They are also searching some passengers a second time immediately before boarding — a practice instituted shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks but discontinued several years ago.
Will I have to wait longer in lines?
Most likely. AAA advises that you get to the airport at least three hours before an international flight and two hours before a domestic flight.
Why can I put liquids and gels in a checked bag but not carry them aboard?
Transportation Security Administration spokesman Amy Von Walter says authorities are concerned that liquids could be one part of a bomb, not necessarily a fully-assembled explosive. If those parts are in carry-on bags, someone could put the bomb together in flight; if they're in the cargo hold, they couldn't.
How long will these new rules last?
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the rules would be "constantly evaluated and updated when circumstances warrant."
Are there any other efforts or new steps being taken to thwart terrorists aboard flights?
The government sent more air marshals to the United Kingdom. Many U.S. airports also have deployed more uniformed police officers. At some airports, such as in Boston and LA, the National Guard has been called into security duty.
CHANGE POLICIES FOR TICKETED TRAVELERS
What if I have an airline ticket to or from the United Kingdom and I want to cancel?
For up-to-date information, contact airline directly:
For passengers ticketed to travel on August 10 or August 11, 2006 who miss a flight due to security delays:
Customers may be rebooked without normally applicable change fees or additional collections to a new flight on August 10 or 11, 2006. Changes to origins or destinations are not permitted; however, changes in connecting points are permitted.
For passengers ticketed to travel to, from or through the United Kingdom between August 10, 2006 and August 20, 2006:
Northwest will waive normal change fees. Customers may postpone their travel for up to one year from the date their ticket was issued, providing they rebook by October 31, 2006.
Has AAA received many calls for cancellation?
As of Thursday (Aug. 10) afternoon, no cancellation requests were received.
What is AAA doing with regard to cancellations?
AAA customers who booked air tickets through AAA Travel Agency have been contacted or are in the process of being contacted. AAA will provide these customers with the information they need to make an intelligent decision. Cancellation requests will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
Customers who have NOT booked through AAA will need to contact the airline or alternate booking agency directly to resolve these issues.
If I have travel insurance, am I covered?
Most travel insurance policies will reimburse travelers for expenses they incur due to delayed or canceled flights, such as the cost of a hotel room at the airport. However, travel insurance most likely won't reimburse the cost of upcoming trips that travelers cancel due to security concerns. Travelers should contact the booking agent directly to resolve cancellation questions.
AccessAmerica coverage position
What Is Covered
This information only applies to policies purchased prior to August 10, 2006.
- For insured travelers affected by carrier-caused delays, our Travel Delay benefit reimburses for additional travel expenses according to the policy’s terms and conditions.
- For travel between the U.S. and the U.K., we will cover delays encountered on August 10 & 11th due to the security conditions as long as the consumer has a policy with Travel Delay benefits. This is liberalization and all other policy terms and conditions will apply.
- As an additional accommodation, insured travelers may change travel dates on their insurance plans if the original destination was the United Kingdom; and the policy transfer is made before September 31, 2006.
- Also, Access America and World Access will continue to provide Emergency Assistance and Concierge Services to our customers as needed, including the Emergency Message Relay to help customers reach friends and family.
For assistance or to modify your policy, insured customers may contact Access America at 800-284-8300. For customers currently traveling in the U.K., call us collect 804-281-5700.
What Is Not Covered
Policies do not provide coverage if a person wants to cancel, interrupt or their trip is cancelled or interrupted due to this situation. For policies purchased on or after August 10, 2006, the potential for delays is considered known and will not be covered. No coverage is provided for changes in travel plans due to fear.
Where can I go for more information?
- Allow extra time to arrive and go through security at the airport.
- Bring only necessary items in your carry-on luggage, which may have to be checked.
- If you are carrying medication, be sure to have your prescription-marked container with you.
- Save receipts for additional expenses if you have Travel Delay coverage.
Visitors to AAA.com
will find a prominent link on the home page titled, “Travel Information Updates.” This link will take visitors to the AAA Safe Travel News page, with links to various travel resources. For the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), visit www.tsa.gov
. AAA travel customers without Internet access can call 1-800-AAA-MICH.