Air security concerns following the Russian jet crash in Egypt focused on checked luggage Friday, as U.S. authorities reviewed screening for passengers at overseas airports.
Several international airlines departing Egypt said they would allow only carry-on baggage as consensus grew that a bomb placed in the cargo hold was likely responsible for the disaster.
Metrojet Flight 9268 crashed on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula killing all 224 people on board Saturday after taking off from Sharm el-Sheikh.
British officials believe someone with access to the cargo hold placed an explosive device on the plane prior to take-off, the BBC reported Friday. It comes after U.S. officials told NBC News that terrorism was emerging as a likely cause.
Both Egypt and Russia have refused to speculate on the cause of the crash until the outcome of their official investigations.
One tourist told U.K. channel Sky News that security was so lax at Sharm el-Sheikh airport that he paid an official $35 to avoid luggage checks.
Dutch carrier KLM said its flight from Cairo to Amsterdam would be allowing only carry-on bags. “Based on national and international information, and out of precaution, KLM will not allow check-in luggage,” the airline said.
The British government, which suspended flights to and from the resort two days ago, said journeys back to the U.K. would resume Friday so that stranded vacationers could return home.
These flights would be subject to “additional security measures,” a government spokesman said in a statement, with passengers unable to check bags into the plane hold.
“We are working with the airlines to ensure there are suitable arrangements in place to reunite passengers with their belongings as soon as possible,” the statement added.
U.K. budget airline EasyJet planned to return passengers from the resort Friday but it said the rescue plans “have been suspended by the Egyptian government” and that “discussions are currently on-going at the highest political level to resolve the situation.”
No U.S. airlines fly in to, out of, or over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, where Sharm el-Sheikh is situated.
But the crash could expose holes in security measures at overseas airports where U.S. airports do operate, security analysts and members of Congress said Thursday.
“While it hasn’t been confirmed officially, there are intelligence reports that it is likely that this could have been a bomb placed on the airplane by ISIS, and that is our grave concern at this point in time,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
President Barack Obama said in a radio interview Thursday that “there is a possibility that there was a bomb on board, and we’re taking that very seriously.”