Pact to abolish security step for flights to U.S.

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Pact to abolish security step for flights to U.S.

Boarding flights to the United States will be less time consuming starting next year as the government pushes to streamline checks of liquid products at departure gates.

Currently, passengers who travel from Korea to the United States go through a security checkpoint before arriving at the departure gate, where there is a second inspection of liquid items in carry-on bags prior to boarding.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said yesterday it has reached an agreement with U.S. authorities to exempt travelers from Korea from the second inspection starting early next year.

The ministry said a total of 5.7 billion won ($4.9 million) will be saved annually and boarding time reduced by 35 minutes.

The second security check for flights to the United States started in August 2006 after a terror attempt using a liquid explosive in the U.K. However, 82 percent of passengers using flights to the United States cited it as the biggest inconvenience in the boarding process, according to the ministry.

In May 2012, the government proposed excluding second security checks for flights to the United States. An agreement was reached after Korea promised to reinforce security for transferring passengers. The Land Ministry credited Korea’s solid reputation on aviation security, such as receiving top grades in the International Civil Aviation Organization’s evaluation in 2011.

The ministry, along with Incheon International Airport Corporation, will establish a liquid-scanning system at Incheon transfer gates by the end of the year and will also have full security checks on transferring passengers’ duty-free items.

Last week, the ministry’s proposed revision on aviation security law was passed in the National Assembly. It allows e-ticket holders with no luggage to check to go directly to the departure gate.

Currently, passengers must go to their airline’s counter to verify e-tickets, but under the revision airport security authorities will have a verification system.

The ministry said the e-ticket revision will take effect in April and cut as much as 20 minutes from the boarding process. It will also reinforce its IT system to protect passenger information from hackers.

Local airlines have welcomed such changes as they can shift employees from counters and security to other areas.

“Recent movements by the ministry certainly help the airline industry, because they increase customer comfort,” said an airline official.


BY JOO Kyung-don [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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