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Flying to the US, Canada or UK? Here Are the New Rules Regarding Flying With Electronics

Matthew Hughes 17-07-2014

Flying to the UK or US? Make sure your laptop and cell phone are sufficiently charged, as new, tighter security checks could see passengers potentially separated from their gadgets. The new rules were brought in as a result of a security request by the US authorities, and affect flights in and out of the US from all airports, in addition to randomly selected routes to the United Kingdom.


Passengers may be required to power on their laptops, tablets and cell phones before boarding a flight. Devices that fail to power on will not be permitted to be brought on to the aircraft.

The changes to the rules were based upon a credible security threat – purportedly from Syria or Yemen – about a new generation of explosive devices that could potentially evade X-rays and pat-down inspections.

Flying to the US, Canada or UK? Here Are the New Rules Regarding Flying With Electronics 4647878006 33e13dcdc9 z

There’s been no word on how long the new restrictions are going to remain in place, but it’s safe to assume that – much like the rules surrounding liquids on flights that came into being in 2006 – they’ll be here for good.

Curious about how the new rules affect you? Read on for more information.


Flying To, From Or Within The United Kingdom?

Initially, the only people affected by the new rule changes were people boarding flights headed stateside. However, in tow with the US, selected flights to the UK will face the same checks. It hasn’t been disclosed which routes are affected, meaning that every passenger flying to a British airport should expect to have their electronic devices tested before boarding a flight.

What if you’re flying internally, or within the European Union on a short-haul flight? According to British newspaper The Guardian, the change in rules aren’t likely to impact you. That’s according to the two major pan-European airlines Ryanair and EasyJet.


Ryanair are quite bullish about the impact the new rules will have on their passengers. The airline commented: “Ryanair does not expect that these rules will have any effect on short-haul flights within Europe.”. EasyJet were slightly more reserved, saying they would advise passengers should any routes operate by EasyJet fall under the new rules. With that said, neither airline have definitively ruled out passengers having their laptops or cell phones inspected.


Contradicting Ryanair and EasyJet slightly, British Airways have said that passengers flying to any long-haul destination may have to demonstrate their devices work. Run out of charge? You’ve got options.

Firstly, you can always be rebooked on a later flight, though it’s not clear whether this comes at an additional charge. You can also leave your device at the airport for later pickup. Last of all, you could forward your item by mail to another address. This will be at the expense of the passenger, of course.

Flying To, From Or Within Canada?

If you are flying to the US from a Canadian airport you will probably need to demonstrate that your devices actually work before boarding your flight. But you knew that already. What about flights heading to Canada?



Canada’s public body responsible for airline security, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, has kept quiet about how flights to Canada will be affected. As a result, there’s no information on how domestic flights are affected.

Instead we’ve been left to see what the airlines themselves are saying. According to Emirates 24/7, UAE-based airlines Etihad and Emirates are advising all passengers on flights to Canada to keep their devices topped up as they may be subject to inspection.

Flying To, From Or Within The United States?

Things are a bit less ambiguous here. Taking a flight that originates in Europe, Asia or Africa and is heading to the US means there’s a very real chance of having your electronic devices inspected.

The new checks have also been extended to a selection of domestic flights. But it’s not all bad news. Most people won’t be affected by this. According to a TSA source speaking to the Los Angeles Times, the inspections will mainly target those on federal terrorism watch lists.



There’s little information about checks to devices on international flights originating from the US. Just to be safe, passengers are advised to ensure their laptops, tablets, e-readers and smartphones have sufficient charge before heading to the airport.

Is It All Bad News?

Most flyers won’t be affected by this. But if you’re flying to the UK or US from a foreign airport you are strongly advised to ensure that your devices have sufficient charge and are fully functional. You might want to invest in a battery case (there are a number of excellent ones for the iPhone The Best iPhone 5 Battery Cases Compared The small, thin iPhone 5 only has so much room, and a small battery almost always leads to modest talk time. Buying a battery case is the easy solution. But which should you buy? There... Read More ) or an external battery pack like the RAVPower RP-WD01 we reviewed a while back RAVPower RP-WD01 Wireless File Hub and Power Bank Review and Giveaway The RAVPower WD01 can charge mobile devices and function as a standalone wireless storage drive, but do you need both features in the same package? And is it worth the money? Read More . You may also want to check out these handy tips and tricks for boosting the battery life on smartphones 7 Ways to Boost Your Cell Phone Battery Life [iPhone, Android, Other Smartphones] By far one of the most disappointing features in just about every smartphone these days is the battery life, which for most of us requires at least one charge per 24-hour period. Are you a... Read More .

Have you been impacted by the new rules? Tell me about it, the comments section is below.

Related topics: Travel, Windows Phone.

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  1. Art
    July 30, 2014 at 8:14 am

    What about devices that do not have a built-in screen, like a Mac Mini?

    • Matthew H
      July 30, 2014 at 4:14 pm

      That's tricky. Er, I imagine you'd just have to either demonstrate that it powers on (tricky, given that they're pretty bulky and don't have a screen, or send it via DHL or FedEX.

  2. Mark Foster
    July 21, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    All they are checking is that it powers up. So be sure the first screen that shows up when it powers up is something you are ok with people seeing.

    Will the little green light on a battery pack be sufficient proof of powering up for these devices?

    I sure hope they plan on adding more inspection staff so this doesn't add another hour to security lines.

    This is just another positive argument for the Great American Road Trip. It just amazes me that every year the security thing gets more onerous and yet every year more people fly than the year before. I wonder if we'll see travelers finally quit flying because of the security paranoia.

    • Matthew H
      July 27, 2014 at 10:57 am

      I don't know. That's a good question, actually.

      I was flying from the biggest non-London airport in the UK (Manchester) to Bratislava the other week. I was in the inspection line for at least one and a half hours. It usually takes about 20 minutes. So, yeah. Take that as you will.

  3. Nabil Khan
    July 19, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    What kind of inspection they will do on airports ? For example if i have personal data, some very personal kind of pictures and videos of my family or wife or anything, or if it involves some nudity or any other thing, what will happen then ? how can someone with some of the described personal kind of data handover his gadget to any other person for checking ?? please tell me

    • Matthew H
      July 27, 2014 at 10:56 am

      They'll just check if your device powers on. However, customs agents in some jurisdictions (including Canada, I think) have the right to check the contents of your device.

  4. Gman
    July 19, 2014 at 2:35 am

    Thanks for the information. I had no issue with the title or the subject matter.

    • Matthew H
      July 27, 2014 at 10:58 am

      Much appreciated. Cheers man.

  5. Larry
    July 18, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    A portion of the title of the article is, "Flying To The US, Canada or UK?", not "Flying To The US, Canada or UK from Europe?". So it's reasonable to expect that people could assume flying from the US to Canada. You only mention where the flights are originating from in the section titled, "Flying To, From Or Within The United States?".

    Also, the link to "According to Emirates 24/7" doesn't even work (12:52pm EST), so that's not much help to us. I'll just go to or

    • Matthew H
      July 18, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      That'd make the title pretty long. Just saying. ;)

  6. Larry
    July 18, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    So, the title of this article is completely misleading. You couldn't find ANY information on UA, AA, or any other website on the regulations regarding flying to Canada from the US, so you quote "Emirates 24/7". Huh? And "As a result, there’s no information on how domestic flights are affected." Then why write an article? No new information here! Nice clickbait. I guess the author had a deadline.

    • Matthew H
      July 18, 2014 at 3:22 pm

      The only routes affected are the ones originating in Europe, Asia and Africa. I state that clearly at multiple points in the article. With respect to domestic flights, I said that the Transportation Safety Board of Canada haven't implemented any new rules.

      Airlines, of course, can create their own rules with respect to security. Emirates and Etihad have created their own rules for flights originating to Canada from Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The site quoted (Emirates 24/7) is a legitimate, well respected publication. While it lacks the gravitas of the BBC or the CBC, it's still a respectable source, and is one of the largest English language broadcasters/news websites in the Middle East.

      I'm not quite sure what your point is.

    • Mark Hansen
      August 7, 2014 at 12:33 am

      Matthew, I think his point was just to make some comment. It was just for attention. He probably had a quota of stupid comments to fill.

    • Larry
      August 7, 2014 at 4:35 pm

      Mark, at least I made a comment that related to the content of this article. Can you say the same? Nope! ;-)

  7. Varun K
    July 18, 2014 at 5:42 am

    So what happens if you run out of battery ? Will you have to wait there until it charges your device or do you have to leave them there only ?

    • Matthew H
      July 18, 2014 at 3:23 pm

      That depends on the airport and the airline. Some allow you to leave it behind. Some allow you to mail it on. Some allow you to charge your device and try again. Some will allow you to rebook your flight.

      So, it depends.

  8. santelmo
    July 18, 2014 at 3:21 am

    What bout battery packs? What if I drain my battery pack? I hope they will allow people to use their chargers to prove that their devices are working and that it only needs recharging...

    • Matthew H
      July 18, 2014 at 3:23 pm

      I imagine the same rules will apply. You'll have to demonstrate that your device works to the security agent.