WASHINGTON – Effective immediately, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced an adjustment in the aviation threat level from RED to ORANGE for flights from the United Kingdom to the United States. There will not be any operational changes for domestic flights in the United States. Thus, the U.S. threat level remains at ORANGE, or 'High,' for all domestic and international flights. The ban on liquids and gels in carry on baggage remains in full effect.
Tonight, the U.K.'s terrorism threat level was changed from CRITICAL (an attack is expected imminently), to SEVERE (an attack is highly likely).
"The security measures already taken have allowed us to address an imminent threat of attack for flights between the United Kingdom and the United States. Let me be clear: this does not mean the threat is over. The investigation continues to follow all leads. In particular, we are remaining vigilant for any signs of planning within the U.S. or directed at Americans," said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. "We are maintaining a heightened level of security for United Kingdom flights bound for the United States and have put in place added measures for these flights even beyond the normal ORANGE procedures. The U.S. and the U.K. are now essentially at parallel security levels in aviation. Additionally, we are maintaining our heightened level of security for all flights both domestically and internationally."
While the threat level drops from RED to ORANGE on United Kingdom flights bound to the United States, passengers can expect enhanced measures to remain in place for these flights, including additional restrictions on hand luggage and gate check inspections.
Domestically, U.S. travelers should expect to see an increase in visibility and use of canine detection teams. Random inspections of bags at departure gates will continue. Earlier today, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced slight modifications to its current security procedures.
DHS will continue to evaluate these security measures and will further adjust as necessary to ensure the aviation system remains secure. Travelers are urged to remain alert and vigilant and report suspicious activity to authorities.
Contact individual airlines for guidance on airport arrival times.