Already you can’t take liquids (over 100ml) on your carry-on luggage and sometimes you have to take off your shoes and belt before boarding a flight, but things are about to even more intense now that the Australian Government has declared a high terror alert. How will this affect you and what can you do, asks Quentin Long.
1. Beat the queues
New security measures ultimately will mean longer queues. The old adage of “I can get there 30 minutes before a domestic flight or 90 minutes before an international flight” is gone. Plan to be at the airport three hours (minimum) before an international flight.
2. The patdown – my rights
Basically, you are unable to refuse a patdown. You can, however, ask for the search to be performed in private, particularly for religious/cultural reasons. You also have the right to ask for someone of the same sex to search you (in Australia).
3. What are the new security measures?
Be prepared for the new (and future) security precautions. There will be more airport security on the ground immeditately so expect a lot more pat downs, unpacking of bags for searches and officers dabbing for explosives.
4. Any more surprises?
If the threat levels stay high into the future, expect more behavioural experts at airports assessing your actions getting on and off flights. Increasingly biometric security will be used to combat security threats – more iris and finger print scans and the use of facial recognition technology.
5. Get prepared before you travel
Make sure you check in to your flight online and pre-book your seat if possible. Obviously, ensure all your documents are up to date, starting with your passport!
6. Check out security precautions at your destination too
Ask your travel agent or consult SmartTraveller.gov.au about the regulations at your destination that may affect you. In the UK and the USA, for example, you can be asked to turn on your mobile phone to make sure that it isn’t a potential threat (so it won’t detonate). If you can’t turn it on, then your device will be confiscated. This rule isn’t in place in Australia.
7. The problem with travelling with children
If you are travelling out of the country with children, and you are divorced, for instance, ensure you have the appropriate documentation that says you can take your children out of the country. This is particularly relevant if you have a different surname than your children. (Hint: Sometimes passport control officers will ask a child who’s this, pointing to you)
8. Which countries to avoid?
The first and best resource is to check SmartTraveller.gov.au. At the moment, places in (or close to) conflict, such as Libya Syria, Iraq and Iran should be avoided. So too should West Africa, due to the Ebola outbreak, and Kenya with its specific terror threat. Also be aware that certain areas in otherwise safe countries, such as Thailand, Philippines and Bali, can have no-go areas.
9. Areas to steer clear of
Under high alert, as much as possible, avoid places such as train stations and airports, particularly at night! Make sure you have arranged a connection to your accommodation so you’re not in an area where you could be exploited for too long.
10. What precautions should I take when I’m overseas?
Find out the local emergency number so you know who to contact in hurry should you need to. Also, consider learning a few choice phrases in the local language to get rid of unwarranted attention and also to call for help if needed.