The Bush Administration has put forth new rules demanding that visitors to the US from Europe need to apply for "approval" to land, days in advance of purchasing their tickets. Airlines will also be required to provide information on travellers' families, and to allow US Air Marshals to fly on any flight that will pass over or land on US soil.
The demand to put armed air marshals on to the flights is part of a travel clampdown by the Bush administration that officials in Brussels described as "blackmail" and "troublesome", and could see west Europeans and Britons required to have US visas if their governments balk at Washington's requirements.
According to a US document being circulated for signature in European capitals, EU states would also need to supply personal data on all air passengers overflying but not landing in the US in order to gain or retain visa-free travel to America, senior EU officials said.
And within months the US department of homeland security is to impose a new permit system for Europeans flying to the US, compelling all travellers to apply online for permission to enter the country before booking or buying a ticket, a procedure that will take several days.
I think this is a great idea. While we're at it, lets give Mexico the right to put its Sky Marshals on any American flight that's bound for South America, and Canada could put Mounties on all US flights headed over to Alaska from the mainland. Also: if you're on a US flight headed to, say, Germany, your flight could have gun-toting cops from Canada, Ireland, the UK, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and Switzerland on it.