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Changes Coming For Airline Travelers in 2018

by Countable | 1.3.18

What’s the story?

A variety of changes are coming for airline travelers in the new year. Here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect if you take to the skies in 2018, per the Wall Street Journal.

More seats, less room: Airlines, including American, United and Southwest, will be adding planes with more seats, but the seats will be smaller at only 30 inches wide.

ID changes: Only 27 states plus the District of Columbia are currently compliant with a 2005 law requiring states to update their identity verification procedures when issuing driver’s licenses. Starting as soon as January 22 airport authorities could stop accepting driver’s licenses in New York, Michigan and Louisiana. Other non-compliant states have an extension until October. Travelers should bring passports to be safe.

No more boarding passes: For those states with ID compliance, or for those passengers with passports, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) will be expanding their use of PreCheck machines, which allow you to check in with just ID instead of needing a boarding pass.

Stricter rules for carry-ons: All electronic devices larger than a cellphone are expected to be removed from carry-ons and placed in bins when bags are scanned to allow x-ray of bag contents to be more accurate.

No more checking ‘smart’ bags: Some travelers now check so-called ‘smart bags’, which contain GPS tracking devices and other location technology, but the lithium batteries are now considered a fire hazard by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Major carriers, including American, Delta, Southwest, Alaska and others will only allow checking of smart bags if the batteries are removed, rendering their tracking capabilities inoperable. Similarly, ‘smart bags’ can be carried on, but only if the batteries are removable.

Premium Economy class: Travelers who put a premium on having more space will now be able to purchase seats in ‘premium economy’ class on American and Delta. Think of it as business economy class before lie-flat beds. Those tickets will cost between $700 to $2000 more than the ever-shrinking economy seats.

Facial scans for international travelers: Despite privacy concerns, TSA is expanding a pilot program involving biometric facial scans of travelers through international terminals to all U.S. airports to aid in identity checks.

What do you think?

Will you be traveling by air in 2018? Which of these changes will affect you? Do you support these changes if they impact safety or ticket cost, or not?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Pixabay / Creative Commons)

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