The State of Travel | Securing the Skies | Inside the World's Most Secure Airport | Nine Steps to Overcoming Flying Anxiety | Travel Insurance—Are You Covered? Assessing the Risk—Advice From Experts | The Comeback City: How New York Has Been Transformed | Security Update: Trains | Security Update: Hotels | Security Update: Borders | Cancellation Costs
Security Update: Trains
Amtrak has traditionally had limited security procedures. Now the company is beefing them up to protect passengers—and to catch potential terrorists.
Customers must show a photo ID when buying tickets or checking luggage, and may no longer purchase tickets aboard trains running between Washington, D.C., and Boston. In addition, says Amtrak spokeswoman Karen Dunn, the company's internal police force is maintaining "a more visible presence" in stations and on trains, and is "working closely with the FBI." Amtrak has requested a $3 billion emergency aid package from Congress; half of that would go toward security upgrades, which could include airline-style passenger and baggage screening.
Such measures are already in place on some European trains, including the Eurostar and Spanish AVE lines. And other networks have been tightening security: French National Railroads, for example, has deployed more station police, ordered the destruction of abandoned packages and luggage, replaced trash cans in terminals with transparent plastic bags, and eliminated self-service luggage lockers.—Jim Glab
Nadeen Ayala, spokeswoman for Starwood Hotels & Resorts—which owns Sheraton, Westin, Luxury Collection, and other brands—said that security has been heightened at Starwood properties worldwide. Guests must present ID at check-in and show their room keys when parking, as well as boarding elevators. Property entrances are being guarded 24 hours a day. Officials at Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt said that tighter security procedures were being followed at their properties, but declined to provide specifics.
Independent hotels have likewise stepped up safety efforts. At the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, where plainclothes security personnel have always patrolled the grounds, a $500,000 video-surveillance system has now been installed. And at London's Dorchester, all handbags, briefcases, and packages brought into the building are inspected at a new security desk near the entrance. —J.G.
Security Update: Borders
The government has long focused its attention on the U.S.—Mexican border, but because terrorists have allegedly entered the country from Canada, that's changing. Legislation pending in Congress at press time would triple the number of Border Patrol agents working along the Canadian border.
Both borders now have Threat Level 1 procedures in effect. According to Immigration & Naturalization Service spokeswoman Kimberly Weissman, "That means inspectors will be looking at documents and vehicles more closely." U.S. travelers should carry proof of citizenship for re-entry. Previously, only foreigners were required to show documentation. —J.G.