Australia’s new Airport Security Measures – What it means for travellers and airport workers alike

Australian airport security is recently facing strong pressure to change from two different angles: the extensive terror plot this summer and the US’s tighter security requirements. The terror attempt in August, involving an elaborate explosives scheme, has stirred up debate over transportation security among Australian politicians and government officials.  Malcolm Turnbull and the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester, issued a joint statement on the government’s plan to enhance security. The measures are focused on airport workers, such as luggage handlers, as the terror plot revolved around sneaking explosives into luggage. Currently, Australia’s airport workers and their belongings are not screened for explosives or dangerous items.

The new measures will take place at the airports of Australia’s major cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Darwin, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Cairns, the Gold Coast, and Hobart). All airport staff (Baggage handlers, caterers, engineers and maintenance staff) will face random testing for explosives. The efficacy of such efforts is questionable. These screenings are not regular and there is a possibility that they can be dodged.[1]

Passengers will be affected by other security enhancement measures in efforts to comply with tighter US security rules. All US-bound flights will require passengers to undergo short security interviews. This ‘passenger-vetting’ will help US-bound flights avoid an in-cabin ban on laptops.

Impact on Traveler’s and Airport Workers

For airport workers, the measures are unlikely to significantly impact their daily lives, though this is subject to change as the security debate evolves. These measures still fall far short of the security measures that US airport workers are required to undergo.[2]

It is travellers that will be especially impacted. The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development has said that new security measures will cause delays for travelers.[3]

US-bound travelers will face the greatest impact. To accommodate the short security interviews, airlines request passengers to arrive a full 3 hours before departure.[4] Additionally, conveniences provided by some airlines for frequent flyers will be scaled back.

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