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.
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) or an external battery pack like the RAVPower RP-WD01 we reviewed a while back. You may also want to check out these handy tips and tricks for boosting the battery life on smartphones.
Have you been impacted by the new rules? Tell me about it, the comments section is below.