Permanent Tourist

The personal website of Mark Howells-Mead

Advance Passenger Information (API)

In the years I’ve been travelling around Europe, I’ve seen quite a change in the security regulations. I clearly remember the first time I was at a foreign airport completely my own, when I was due to return from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport to London. I hadn’t paid attention to the flight departure times and so when I strolled up to the gate and saw that there were no passengers waiting, the plane was docked and the door was open, I ran down the gangway to find an empty cabin, cleaning staff still litter-picking from the incoming flight, and a number of surprised stewards. Red-faced, I returned to the departure lounge and waited with few fellow passengers for the flight to begin boarding.

These days, such a thing is barely imaginable. After the increase in terrorism over the past ten years – or rather, the expansion of terrorist activity to the United States and Europe – the security regulations mean that identities are double- and triple-checked, liquids must be screened and only the most innocuous items may be carried in hand luggage. Jo and I, on returning from a trip to England a couple of years ago, even had a jar of Marmite confiscated: the security officer was very apologetic, but the potential threat of a semi-liquid substance in a glass jar was a step too far for the intense security regulations.

As I found out when I received an email from budget airline easyJet this morning, the latest stage in the drive for increased security is a European Union legislation for “Additional Passenger Information” (API), which states that airline passengers are now required to provide details of their travel documentation (passports) in advance of arrival at the airport. I researched online before providing the information as we’d not heard of this legislation before: Jo travelled to England recently and didn’t need to fulfil the advance requirements which now appear to be the norm. Following some brief online research, the new legislation appears to affect all airlines and – to all intents and purposes – all international flights, following continuing massive revisions to travel requirements which are filtering through from the U.S..

So, in short, travellers now need to be even more sure that they really know what the requirements are for travelling. While the example from a “fly on the wall” documentary was the extreme (where a naïve easyJet passenger assumed that she didn’t need photographic I.D. to travel between UK airports), even regular travellers may be caught out by the ever-increasing number of requirements for travel. More information about the requirement of Advance Passenger Information (API) from a British perspective can be found on the DirectGov website.

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