Reader Mail : Why Does The TSA Rescreen Passengers Connecting From Int’l Flights?

Security is a fact of life for airline travel and screening procedures vary from country to country … which leads to this reader mail from Gene R., from Pittsburgh, PA.  Gene writes “I just flew home to Pittsburgh from Paris with US Airways, as I have done a few times through Philadelphia.  When connecting through Philadelphia I hate that I have to endure security between connecting flights. Why Does The TSA Rescreen Passengers Connecting From Int’l Flights? Isn’t there a better system?

 

 

Gene, I have connected home from international flights via Philadelphia many times, flying with US Airways, Air France, Lufthansa, British Airways and Delta. It doesn’t matter what airline you fly, all the international flights empty into the same arrivals hall at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL).    The reason passengers must be rescreened by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at PHL is simple, when connecting from an international flight in the United States, not just at PHL, passengers are required to pass through immigrations and customs, which involves claiming and rechecking baggage before proceeding to their next flight.

 

Passengers are considered to be in a “sterile” area after they have passed through an airport security checkpoint, going from the “land side” to the “airside” of the terminal. Upon collecting checked baggage, following an international flight, passengers are no longer in a sterile area as they have access to the contents of their checked baggage.    Access to checked baggage gives passengers the opportunity to transfer items prohibited from carry-on from their checked baggage.

 

As frustrating as it can be for passengers to collect their checked baggage, recheck their checked baggage and endure TSA rescreening, it is a necessary process for inbound international passengers connecting flights, especially those connecting  to domestic flights.

 

In many foreign countries passengers connecting from an international flight to an international flight do not need to pass through immigrations and customs, or be rescreened by airport security … however …

 

… passengers flying internationally connecting to a domestic flight, as you did when you flew CDG-PHL-PIT, passengers must undergo immigrations and customs at their point of entry at every airport I know of around the world.  Allowing a passenger to connect from an international flight to a domestic flight without clearing immigrations and customs might make connections easier, but it would allow travelers to entirely bypass passport control and customs.

 

I hope this clear this up for you!

 

Happy Flying!

 

@flyingwithfish

Comments

  1. “In many foreign countries passengers connecting from an international flight to an international flight do not need to pass through immigrations and customs, or be rescreened by airport security”

    While this is definitely true most places for International-International connections when it comes to customs/immigration, ignoring the Schengen Area, the only airport I’ve ever experienced an International-International connection without being rescreened is CMB. I’d love to hear of any other examples if you know them, as this question came up on FT just yesterday.

  2. This is why many of us try to find flights that originate or connect (long connection) in Canadian gateways or Shannon. You clear US customs there and your bags get checked through to your destination. On arrival into the US you’re treated as if you arrived from a domestic flight.

    The flight from London’s financial district to JFK stops at Shannon for fuel and during that time, pax go thru US customs, then hit JFK and just grab a limo.

  3. I understand having to go through security again after having access to your checked bags, but the why do you have to recheck them in the first place?

    Every time I have done this, I show my papers, take my checked bags off one luggage belt and drop them on another belt. Seems like a very silly design.

    Can’t they have these belts connected and sent the checked bags directly to the connecting flight? If they did this, then there would be no need to re-screen anyone, think of all the money that could be saved!

    Duane

  4. “passengers must undergo immigrations and customs at their point of entry at every airport I know of around the world”

    Fish, have you ever been to Morocco? I visited there about 3 years ago, flying from New York into Casablanca and connecting to Marrakech. To my surprise, upon landing in Casablanca I was directed to the domestic transfer area without passing through immigration and customs; my bag had also been checked through to Marrakech. I then took a domestic flight (with an aborted takeoff — first time experience for me), and upon landing in Marrakech went through the standard immigration–bag pickup–customs. I don’t know what domestic passengers on that flight did, as far as I could tell everybody got funneled through immigration at Marrakech.

    Additionally, my bag managed to misconnect in Casablanca and arrived in Marrakech on a later flight. At every other place I have been to, the airline passes the bag through customs and sends it to the hotel, but in Marrakech I had to go back to the airport myself and take the bag through customs.

    At any rate, Morocco appears to be one country which does not follow the “first port of entry” rule, which is common in the U.S., Schengen area and most other places I know.

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