Do Not Go Pass Go

Transit visas stalled.


You have to admire whoever dreamed up this headline for a government press release: "HOMELAND SECURITY AND DEPARTMENT OF STATE TAKE IMMEDIATE STEPS TO MAKE AIR TRAVEL EVEN SAFER." It covers all the bases, reassuring us that what they're about to do is crucial to our safety and that they're already doing an impeccable job of keeping us safe. If safety is measured by inconvenience, it's right on both counts.

The "immediate steps" in question, enacted last August, were to suspend the Transit Without Visa and International-to-International Transit programs. Both programs allowed people traveling from one foreign country to another to board connecting planes on U.S. soil without weathering America's border control bureaucracy. The departments plan to restore the programs, the press release informs us, "as soon as additional security measures can be implemented to safeguard the programs from terrorists who wish to gain access to the U.S. or U.S. airspace without first going through the consular screening process."

It's unclear just what holes in security the investigators suspect they'll find, or how long it will be before the programs are reinstated. As the answers to those questions become more clear, we'll have a better sense of whether this is a short-term measure to seal a few cracks or a long-term source of ill will and extra expense for foreign travelers.