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A SPECIAL BRIEFING FOR FREQUENT FLYERS
By Joe Brancatelli

December 27, 2009, 10 p.m. ET -- Here are the salient portions of the Transportation Security Administration's security directive issued on Christmas Day after the terrorist attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253. I have omitted the housekeeping and internal details that do not affect travelers; otherwise, this memo is verbatim. After several days of leaks, little of this will surprise you. But there is one notable item: The directive expires on December 30. Assuming the TSA doesn't find a reason to extend these draconian and largely fruitless measures, it means we could return to what passes for normal on international flights at the beginning of the year.

One other note: I was in possession of this memo early yesterday, but did not post it until now because I was unable to confirm that this directive was the same one that went to all carriers with international service to the United States. Since at least four international airlines have confirmed that this is the directive they received, I am comfortable releasing it now and calling it genuine.


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Transportation Security Administration
Subject: Security Directive
Number: SD 1544-09-06
Date: December 25, 2009

EXPIRATION: 0200Z on December 30, 2009

INFORMATION: On December 25, 2009, a terrorist attack was attempted against a flight traveling to the United States. TSA has identified security measures to be implemented by airports, aircraft operators, and foreign air carriers to mitigate potential threats to flights.

ACTIONS REQUIRED: If you conduct scheduled and/or public charter flight operations under a Full Program under 49 CFR 1544.101(a) departing from any foreign location to the United States (including its territories and possessions), you must immediately implement all measures in this SD for each such flight.

1. BOARDING GATE

1. The aircraft operator or authorized air carrier representative must ensure all passengers are screened at the boarding gate during the boarding process using the following procedures. These procedures are in addition to the screening of all passengers at the screening checkpoint.

1. Perform thorough pat-down of all passengers at boarding gate prior to boarding, concentrating on upper legs and torso.
2. Physically inspect 100 percent of all passenger accessible property at the boarding gate prior to boarding, with focus on syringes being transported along with powders and/or liquids.
3. Ensure the liquids, aerosols, and gels restrictions are strictly adhered to in accordance with SD 1544-06-02E.

2. IN FLIGHT

1. During flight, the aircraft operator must ensure that the following procedures are followed:

1. Passengers must remain in seats beginning 1 hour prior to arrival at destination.
2. Passenger access to carry-on baggage is prohibited beginning 1 hour prior to arrival at destination.
3. Disable aircraft-integrated passenger communications systems and services (phone, internet access services, live television programming, global positioning systems) prior to boarding and during all phases of flight.
4. While over U.S. airspace, flight crew may not make any announcement to passengers concerning flight path or position over cities or landmarks.
5. Passengers may not have any blankets, pillows, or personal belongings on the lap beginning 1 hour prior to arrival at destination.

Gale Rossides
Acting Administrator


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ABOUT JOE BRANCATELLI Joe Brancatelli is a publication consultant, which means that he helps media companies start, fix and reposition newspapers, magazines and Web sites. He's also the former executive editor of Frequent Flyer and has been a consultant to or columnist for more business-travel and leisure-travel publishing operations than he can remember. He started his career as a business journalist and created JoeSentMe in the dark days after 9/11 while he was stranded in a hotel room in San Francisco. He lives on the Hudson River in the tourist town of Cold Spring.

THE FINE PRINT All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.

This column is Copyright 2009 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2009 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.