Late last year, Cathay Pacific suspended in-town check-in services for travellers heading to the United States in order to comply with new security directives implemented by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for all flights. As part of the new directives, passengers would be subject to a security interview at check-in and another one immediately prior to boarding. The new directive also meant that passengers were required to arrive earlier at the airport to complete the interview.
As of June 29 (last Friday), passengers will once again be able to use in-town check-in services when travelling to the United States. This comes as the result of a new set of DHS directives which allows all passengers to be interviewed at the boarding gate. Despite this, all passengers travelling to the United States (except on flight CX888) will be required to undergo a secondary security check at the boarding gate.
Cathay Pacific Business Class Check-In Hong Kong Airport
As someone who frequently travels between Hong Kong and the United States, this is a welcome change. However, it’s worth noting that I, alongside many of my fellow passengers, didn’t find the security interview to be all that irritating. While it added to my overall travel time, the interview wasn’t actively unpleasant and the security agents were always friendly and courteous.
At the same time, while I’m no security expert, I found the interview to be utterly unnecessary. Putting aside the fact that behaviour detection techniques have minimal scientific support, the questions that were asked wouldn’t exactly helpful in “weeding out” anyone who would have any malicious intentions.
Unfortunately, these new directives don’t remove what is easily the most annoying part of flying to the United States from Hong Kong: the time-consuming and irritating secondary security bag check during which bags are checked manually by hand and all liquids over 100mL are confiscated, and the jetbridge and gate area is turned into a zoo. Anyways, I digress…
Cathay Pacific Business Class Boarding Signage
In other news, new restrictions have been implemented on powders on flights between Hong Kong and New Zealand, Australia and the United States following a failed bombing plot on an Etihad flight from Abu Dhabi to Sydney last year.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Hong Kong Airport
For flights departing to the United States, all powder-like substances in cabin baggage must be carried in quantities of 350mL or less. For flights departing to Australia and New Zealand, inorganic powders (not derived from living matter, such as salt, sand, powdered detergents and deodorant) must be carried in quantities of 350mL or less. These will be enforced during the secondary security check at the boarding gate. Baby formula, medication in powder form and cremated remains are excluded from these restrictions. Powders purchased at duty-free shopping are also exempt from the rule provided that they are securely sealed in a tamper-proof bag along with proof of purchase.
Airline security is extremely complex and is ever changing for good reasons. Hopefully, these new changes to airline security work to make the flying experience easier for all passengers while continuing to main the high level of flight safety around the world.