The New ‘Enhanced Screening’ for US-Bound Flights Wasn’t Very Enhanced — For Me

Nov 6, 2017

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

This weekend, I flew Lufthansa’s A350 from Munich (MUC) to Boston (BOS). It was a great experience, overall, as I’ll detail soon in a full review, but my Munich departure also gave me an opportunity to experience the new “stricter passenger screening requirements” for US-bound flights.

I had actually forgotten entirely about the new screening process until I came upon a checkpoint just before the US gates. Now, I’ve passed through that same checkpoint several times before, at which point my passport was checked against my boarding pass and I’d always been quickly sent on my way. There’s a secondary X-ray lane there, too, but I’ve never been selected for additional screening — perhaps that’s reserved for “random” selectees and those designated with an “SSSS” on their boarding passes.

What was new, however, was an interview process being conducted before passengers were able to approach the passport check counter. There were separate lanes for economy and business/first class, and they were moving fairly quickly. Interviewers were asking the same questions I’ve heard many times before, typically when checking bags from select European airports. Questions like…

  • Who packed your bags?
  • Are you traveling with any electronic devices?
  • Has anyone given you any items to carry on board?

From what I understand, agents are trained to recognize deception — and that’s what they’re looking for, beyond the “right” answers to the questions above.

My flight was operated by Lufthansa, but booked using United miles, so I came across the following notice on United’s site:

Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 11.03.18 AM

Based on the text above, I’d expect a bit of a delay due to the new procedures, but once it was my turn for the interview, the agent looked at my passport and waived me straight through without a single word. I’m a US passport holder, and everyone being stopped for questioning appeared to be carrying foreign passports — but from what I’ve heard, US citizens have been subjected to the full interview process as well, so I’d budget a bit more time just in case. Three hours seems mighty excessive, though.

While my own departure wasn’t especially notable, it does seem like the new procedures are causing headaches — and delays — for some. Have you run into any holdups when returning to the US over the past week? Chime in with your experience below.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.