The year ahead is shaping up to be one of more change for travelers, with new airport security procedures and identification requirements, airline routes and airports, high-speed trains; and the reopening of more hotels in the Caribbean after a brutal hurricane season. Below, a preview.
You’ll see new airport security procedures
In 2017, the Transportation Security Administration announced that it would begin rolling out stronger screening procedures for electronics larger than a cellphone. For years, laptop computers have had to be removed from bags for screening, but now the new measures require that all electronics larger than a cellphone — like e-readers, noise-canceling headphones and hand-held game consoles — also be placed in a separate bin.
The procedures are already in place at some airport checkpoints, where they were being tested, and will be expanded to all airports and checkpoints nationwide by the spring of 2018. (The new measures do not apply to passengers in T.S.A. PreCheck lanes for travelers enrolled in the expedited government security program.)
You may need more than your driver’s license to board a domestic flight
Beginning Jan. 22, if you have a driver’s license or identification card issued by a state that is not compliant with the minimum security standards in what’s known as the Real ID Act, you must have an alternative form of identification in order to fly domestically.
You can see if your state is compliant or has been approved for an extension, in which case you can keep using your current license (for now) at Dhs.gov/real-id. For instance, Texas and Vermont are among the states that are compliant; California and Pennsylvania have extensions; and New York and Louisiana are among the few states that are under review for a renewed extension.
A list of alternative acceptable forms of identification — like a United States passport or a Department of Homeland Security trusted traveler card (such as Global Entry, Nexus, Sentri or Fast) — is at Tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification.
Say hello to new airline routes and airports …
New routes are coming for spring and summer travel.
Beginning in April, United Airlines will offer year-round service to Wilmington International Airport in North Carolina from O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, as well as from Washington Dulles International Airport. The airline will also fly to Elmira/Corning Regional Airport in New York from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. There will be new routes between Los Angeles and Oregon, and Denver and Florida, too.
From June 7, those wishing to visit the nation’s national parks will have more options, with seasonal service between O’Hare International Airport in Chicago and Fresno Yosemite International Airport in California; and Los Angeles International Airport and Glacier Park International Airport and Missoula International Airport, both in Montana.
In October, United plans to begin service between San Francisco and Faa’a International Airport in Tahiti, which the company said will make it the only United States carrier offering nonstop service there from the mainland United States.
JetBlue said that beginning May 3 it will increase its presence in New England, with nonstop service between Worcester Regional Airport in Massachusetts and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, becoming the only commercial airline to serve Worcester. On that same day, JetBlue also plans to begin nonstop service between Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and Boston Logan International Airport.
American Airlines is homing in on Canada, adding service from its hub in Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to Vancouver International Airport beginning May 4. Seasonal service to Calgary International Airport from O’Hare begins June 7. There will be more flights from the east coast of the United States to eastern Canada as well, including Toronto, Ottawa and Quebec City.
Also in June, Delta Air Lines will offer new nonstop service between Mineta San Jose International Airport in California and John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.
Looking for a deal? Norwegian Air, the low-cost, long-haul carrier, is planning 11 new trans-Atlantic routes for 2018, including service from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in the Netherlands (beginning May 7) and to Madrid-Barajas Airport in Spain (beginning July 18). There will also be service from Los Angeles International Airport to Milan (beginning June 18) and Madrid (beginning July 16).
… and say goodbye to smart bags (unless you can remove those lithium-ion batteries)
When deciding what to pack, you may need to think twice about so-called smart bags that allow travelers to do things like charge their portable electronic devices and lock the bag remotely.
Beginning Jan. 15, major airlines, including American, Delta, United, Hawaiian and Alaska will no longer accept smart bags with lithium-ion batteries unless the batteries can be removed on site. Why? Because, as Delta put it, the batteries have the potential to overheat and start a fire during flight. So if you’re planning to travel with a smart bag, be sure you know how to remove the battery before leaving home.
In addition to new airport rules, the year ahead will also bring new airports.
Relations between the United States and Turkey may be strained, but a state-of-the-art airport, Istanbul New Airport (yes, that’s what it’s called), is slated to be completed in 2018 and will become the primary gateway to the city.
And in Israel, Eilat City Airport and Ovda Airport, the entry points for the country’s popular southern resort town of Eilat, will be replaced by the new Ramon International Airport.
And a few updates on popular destinations
In Paris, Airbnb announced that, beginning in January 2018, it will cap the number of days each year that hosts can rent out dwellings in neighborhoods in central Paris — the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Arrondissements — to comply with the country’s limit (120 days a year, according to Reuters) on short-term home rentals. Airbnb has already tested the cap in other major cities like London. For tourists, that could mean a more competitive rental market in Paris’s most popular arrondissements, so be sure to book early.
In Israel, a new high-speed train connecting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, slated to open in April, will be the country’s first electric railway line. The Israel Ministry of Tourism said the new train will take 28 minutes between the cities, down from the current 80 minutes it takes by bus.
In the Caribbean, where the recovery continues for hard-hit islands, some major hotels are planning to reopen in 2018, including the Four Seasons Anguilla and CuisinArt Golf Resort and Spa in Anguilla. Check individual hotel websites for updates.