New checks to be introduced for US travel

New checks to be introduced for US travelPeople catching flights from the UK to the United States from January 2009 will have to provide certain pieces of personal information prior to departure as part of a new security initiative.

The new Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (Esta) system, which will require travellers to submit biographical, travel and eligibility information at least 72 hours before their flight, will replace the written forms that Brits travelling to America currently have to complete.

Michael Chertoff, US homeland security secretary, said that the initiative is a modern way of gathering information about visitors who are able to travel to the US without a visa.

"Getting this information in advance enables our frontline personnel to determine whether a visa-free traveller presents a threat, before boarding an aircraft or arriving on our shores," he said.

"It is a relatively simple and effective way to strengthen our security, and that of international travellers, while helping to preserve an important program for key allies."

Brits can catch flights to the US from a number of hubs, including Gatwick Airport and Manchester Airport, which also offer a range of airport hotels and parking facilities.

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