No-Fly Rules Tightened After Times Square Bomb Attempt - NBC New York

No-Fly Rules Tightened After Times Square Bomb Attempt

Airlines to check the no-fly list every 2 hours



    The near-escape of the Times Square bomb plot suspect forces airlines to increase passenger screening. (Published Wednesday, May 5, 2010)

    New rules are now in place for airlines to make sure people like Faisal Shahzad -- the suspect in the failed Times Square bombing saturday who was on a no-fly list -- aren't allowed to board airplanes.

    Shahzad had been placed on the no-fly list Monday around 12:30 p.m. An electronic notification was sent to airlines a few minutes later.

    Nevertheless, seven hours later, shortly before 7:30 p.m., Shahzad was purchased a ticket to fly to Pakistan, via Dubai, aboard Emirates Air -- paying with cash -- and still no flags were raised.

    The flight was scheduled to take off around 11 p.m. and Shahzad's name still hadn't been checked when he boarded the plane.

    It wasn't until the final passenger list was sent to the U.S. Customs and Borders Agency, just minutes before takeoff, that Shahzad was stopped and arrested.

    Today, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced new rules for the no-fly list -- making mandatory updates faster -- which took effect immediately.

    He pointed out that Emirates Air did nothing wrong by not checking the passengers' names against the no-fly list.

    He said "the airline didn't have to check necessarily at that point. The new rules require that that happen at a two-hour interval."

    That means airlines must now check for any notifications about the no-fly list, every two hours.

    New York's Senator Charles Schumer pointed out "that requirement is long overdue."

    He is asking the Obama Administration to also flag airline passengers who pay cash, something that isn't automatically done just because a traveler uses greenbacks.

    "People who pay cash -- not always -- but may be paying to avoid detection," said Schumer. "That name should be monitored on the no-fly list."

    And several travelers we spoke with at JFK Airport supported Schumer's idea.

    Jason Pressburg, of Yorktown, New York, was flying to Israel and said "I pay with a credit card for things. And it just feels spooky when someone doesn't."

    Patrick Griffiths, an attorney who lives in the Rosedale section of Queens, believes that if the government "deems it necessary at this point to (check cash-paying travelers against the no-fly list), then we must do it."

    Another concern raised by Sen. Schumer is the role of the airlines in managing passenger security.

    Schumer said security measures "should all be done as much by the government as possible, not by the airlines."

    He said it wouldn't cost much to make sure that current Transportation Security Administration agents check flagged passengers against the nation's no-fly list.