The new restrictions on airline travelers, caused by this weekend’s attack on a Northwest Airlines flight, have been eased, the Associated Press reports.
At the captain’s discretion, passengers can once again have blankets and other items on their laps or move about the cabin during the tail end of flight. In-flight entertainment restrictions have also been lifted.
The airline officials spoke on condition of anonymity because federal safety officials had not publicly announced the changes.
That’s significant becuase federal safety officials hadn’t yet publicly announced the new rules were in effect, either. The Transportation Security Administration has only publicly said this:
During flight, passengers will be asked to follow flight crew instructions, such as stowing personal items, turning off electronic equipment and remaining seated during certain portions of the flight.
Technically, all of those guidelines were in place before Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device hidden in his clothing on the flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.
Time Magazine takes the glass-half-full approach, noting that security rules prevented Abdulmutallab from assembling a better bomb:
And it turns out that pulling off such an explosion on a plane is no simple feat. “It’s a bit more complicated than just putting a flame to the powder,” says Jimmie Carol Oxley, the director of the Center of Excellence in Explosives Detection, Mitigation, Response and Characterization at the University of Rhode Island, Kingston
Meanwhile, the Christian Science Monitor has put Yemen in the on-deck circle for war:
The use of preemptive action in Muslim countries isn’t very popular in the US, but President Obama needs to consider it for Yemen, which has a population of about 23 million. He’s already promised $70 million for the elected government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in its fight against terrorist groups. The government recently responded with effective air strikes on leaders of Al Qaeda affiliates in December, perhaps killing many of them.
For his part, President Obama sought to calm a nation that doesn’t seem particularly nervous about air travel.