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Incheon Airport Boosts Security Checks for US-bound Flights

Incheon Airport Boosts Security Checks for US-bound Flights

Posted December. 29, 2009 01:02,   


Passengers at Incheon International Airport yesterday afternoon lined up for security checks before being allowed to board a Korean Air flight bound for Los Angeles.

Those who passed an X-ray checkpoint at the passport control section had to undergo another X-ray inspection just before boarding. They formed a line 50 meters long to clear the second checkpoint.

Passenger Choi Mi-na said, “It seems like it took twice as much time as before since I had to undergo a second inspection after the first, for which I had to take off my jacket and shoes.”

In the wake of the attempted bombing of a passenger flight that landed in Detroit Saturday, the Incheon airport is also in a heightened state of alert. Security checks were boosted at the airport Saturday after the attempted bombing in Detroit.

All passengers on some 20 U.S.-bound flights had to pass through X-ray checkpoints twice. The ratio of detection through X-ray and explosive materials inspections conducted by the customs, immigration and quarantine zone at the Incheon airport was raised from 10 percent to 15 percent. This means 15 of every 100 passengers must undergo closer inspection.

Passengers wearing high-heeled shoes above 3.5 centimeters or thick jackets must take them off before undergoing the security inspection.

As a result, “clearance delays” have occurred at the first security checkpoint passengers must clear before entering the passport control section. An additional 30 to 40 minutes, or double the normal time, is required to pass the checkpoint from 8 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m., when most international flights depart.

Jeong Jin-ho, chief of the airport’s security inspection team, said, “Aviation security remains at the normal level, but we have upgraded the security inspection level by a notch.”

“Passengers traveling to the U.S. are advised to arrive at the airport two and a half hours before departure, or about 30 minutes earlier than normal.”

At the request of U.S. authorities, in-flight security has also been tightened for U.S.-bound flights. Airline personnel are checking for powder or liquid exceeding the permissible amounts in hand-carried luggage.

Passenger movement in-flight is banned one hour before landing in the U.S. to prevent them from touching their hand-carried luggage. They can get up to use the bathroom, however.

In-flight phone calls and Internet use have also been suspended in all U.S.-bound flights.

The Dong-A Ilbo also found through interviews with leading Korean tour agencies, including Hana Tour, Mode Tour and Lotte Tours, that no travelers have canceled trips to the U.S. due to the latest terrorist scare.

min07@donga.com zozo@donga.com