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TravelRechecking bags and clearing security could end for certain international connections in...

Rechecking bags and clearing security could end for certain international connections in US

Travelers arriving in the U.S. from certain overseas destinations may soon be able to skip one of the biggest pain points of international travel: rechecking a bag and reclearing security before connecting to another flight.

Delta Air Lines tells TPG it’s “working closely” with international and U.S. government authorities on a pilot program that would eliminate some security requirements for passengers arriving from an international flight.

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The pilot program would involve certain flights from Incheon International Airport (ICN) in Seoul, South Korea, TPG has learned.

Once rolled out, it would be a first-of-its-kind program following congressional authorization in recent years.

Congress approved pilot program

The Defense Reauthorization Act passed by Congress in late 2022 contained a provision allowing the Transportation Security Administration to implement pilot programs that would allow passengers from certain, set destinations to continue on to connecting flights without additional security screening — for them, or their luggage.

Capitol United States

The law authorized the TSA to launch pilot programs for travelers arriving from up to six international points of origin.

Any such program would be contingent on the U.S. government coordinating with foreign counterparts to ensure that country’s and airport’s security protocols are, at a minimum, on par with those in the U.S.

How it would work

There would be other rules for any such program, too.

Under the 2022 legislation, these passengers forgoing additional security would not be allowed to access their checked luggage until they arrive at baggage claim at their final destination.

They also wouldn’t be able to come into contact with passengers arriving from other international flights — which means any airport deploying such a pilot program would need to have the infrastructure for such a passenger flow in place to support these requirements.


And, the TSA would have to ensure there would be no reduction in security standards throughout the pilot program.

No specifics on first pilot program, yet

So far, details for the first seamless connection pilot are sparse; Delta told TPG it doesn’t have specifics on the program or its timing just yet but said it is working with federal and international authorities “to bring it to life.”

“We look forward to sharing more details later this year,” a spokesperson added.

delta at ATL
On the tarmac at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL). SEAN CUDAHY/THE POINTS GUY

Delta currently flies from Seoul to four of its U.S. hubs: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL). It’s not clear how many of these airports might be involved in such a pilot program.

In a statement to TPG on Thursday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which oversees airport customs facilities, added it is likewise “currently working with the airline industry on baggage innovating efforts to help improve the passenger journey through the CBP process.”

Eliminating a travel pain point

For many frequent international travelers, rechecking a bag and clearing security a second time are among the biggest points of friction when making a connection following an international flight.

That’s particularly true for Global Entry members who often speed through passport control in a matter of seconds, in some cases.

Typically, passengers must wait for their bags after deplaning and proceeding through passport control, then replace a bag on the carousel before proceeding to their connection. They also have to go back through security. While some big airports have special “recheck” baggage and security lines, passengers at many airports end up just going through the regular TSA checkpoint — almost as if they’d just arrived at the airport as a local passenger. (The only exception is when passengers clear security abroad, at a U.S. preclearance facility — such as in Canada, Dublin and a handful of other locations.)


The U.S. Travel Association, a frequent advocate for more seamless travel experiences in the U.S., called these pilot programs “long overdue” in a statement to TPG.

The organization added it is “deeply supportive” of the one-stop security program, “given its ability to remove frictions and create a more seamless travel experience.”

A common option in the future?

Could skipping baggage and security rescreening be a norm for more passengers flying from more origin cities — and on more airlines — in the future?

That will depend on how the pilot program(s) go, the way the law is written.

Within five years, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the TSA and CBP, is tasked with reporting to Congress on the process’s benefits, challenges, effects on passengers, security implications … not to mention the feasibility of expanding it into a more permanent program.

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