Terror tax: Luggage limits and delays the new normal

LONG queues, three-hour check-ins and extra security could be the new reality for Australian travellers following the disruption of an alleged conspiracy to plant a bomb on a flight.

Authorities have warned travellers to be prepared for "enduring" changes that could mark a new normal of arriving two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international one.

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Travellers are also being encouraged to bring less luggage while airport workers could be subject to greater security vetting.

Meanwhile while other changes will be carried out behind the scenes in terms of baggage screening to make sure the public is safe. It comes following new US and UK rules which ban laptops and tablets from being taken onto planes for certain flights from the Middle East.

 

Huge queues at Sydney Airports T2 Domestic Terminal as passengers are subjected to increased security, Sydney, Australia, Monday, July 31, 2017. Airline passengers are experiencing long delays at Australian airports as security is beefed up following a number of terror raids over the weekend. AAP Image/Dean Lewins
Huge queues at Sydney Airports T2 Domestic Terminal as passengers are subjected to increased security, Sydney, Australia, Monday, July 31, 2017. Airline passengers are experiencing long delays at Australian airports as security is beefed up following a number of terror raids over the weekend. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the government is "constantly upgrading and improving our security services and our whole operation".

"That's why I always say we don't 'set and forget'. We are never complacent. Yes, we've got great people but we want them to do even better work," he said.

"The increased security measures at the airports are a response to that. They're in response to an increase in the threat level as assessed by ASIO for aviation.

He also hosed down speculation about a "terror tax" that could provide airports with the resources necessary to provide extra security but potentially lead to greater costs for consumers.

Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton warned travellers to be prepared for disruption.

"It may be that we need to look at the security settings at our airports - in particular our domestic airports - for an ongoing, enduring period," he said.

The warning comes after four men where taken into custody following a tip off from British intelligence agencies that led to the raids across Sydney.
 

Travellers having their luggage checked by security at Sydney Airport. Picture: Justin Lloyd
Travellers having their luggage checked by security at Sydney Airport. Picture: Justin Lloyd

Travellers were met with lengthy delays at airports around the country as police and airlines conducted extra security checks.

The alleged plot has also raised longstanding security fears over the amount of automation at modern airports meaning customers can book online, get boarding passes automatically and get on flights without having to identify themselves to groundstaff.

Experts have also raised concerns about workers in freight and catering services being a potential area that could be exploited by terrorists to gain access.

Qantas and Jetstar have asked passengers to arrive early and bring less on flights if possible.

"Given the additional screening requirements, we ask passengers to arrive at the terminal two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international flights," the company said in a statement.

"Passengers are also asked to limit the amount of carry-on and checked baggage where possible as this will help to ensure security screening is efficient."

Mr Turnbull said vetting measures for staff are currently "robust" but they would also be "constantly improving". He also indicated that security measures not "obvious to the public" were already in place.

The government said 13 terror plots have been disrupted in the last three years and Australia would continue to work closely with global intelligence agencies to share information.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said there would be increased presence of police and security agencies, with baggage being checked more carefully.

News Corp Australia

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