The Transportation Security Administration has announced a new set of airline security policies that could complicate Americans’ international travel plans. According to the TSA’s press release, “As the traveling public knows, all electronic devices are screened by security officers. During the security examination, officers may also ask that owners power up some devices, including cell phones. Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft. The traveler may also undergo additional screening.”
The Washington Post is reporting that this new screening procedure will be conducted at airports overseas with direct flights to the United States. The rule change is being justified as a response to as-yet unverified rumors that Yemeni or Syrian terrorists equipped with US passports are planning to hijack an airliner. TSA officials believe that this threat could come in the form of a bomb built to look like a non-functioning laptop, tablet, or mobile phone. Officials in the United Kingdom have also announced an increase in airline security measures.
The Transportation Security Administration indicated that it would be focusing on smartphones like Samsung’s Galaxy and Apple’s iPhone. Also, officials announced that travelers’ shoes would be subject to closer-than-usual examinations.
However, this new policy regarding electronics could put Americans traveling internationally in a bind if they fail to maintain a charge on all of their devices. Under the erratic conditions of travel that one might experience on vacation overseas, it can be tough to keep a constant charge on laptops and cell phones, which are expensive, big-ticket items. Any device that can not be powered on during the pre-flight security examination will be banned from the flight, possibly forcing travelers to leave behind their most valuable electronic devices, some of which contain irreplaceable files and data. Also, individuals in possession of non-functioning or uncharged electronic devices will be singled out for further security screening.
Some individuals might find that a laptop or other electronic device fails while on an overseas trip. If the dead device were under warranty and the owner wanted to take it home to the US to claim a replacement, this new TSA policy could have harsh consequences. Also, if an electronic device experienced a malfunction overseas while containing important business documents, the individual possessing it would not be able to carry it onboard a flight to bring it back to the US to be worked on by a data recovery specialist.
The TSA has yet to mention the length of time this policy will be in effect, so Americans planning to travel overseas in the near future should make sure to have all electronic devices fully charged and operational prior to boarding flights and should expect delays, as passengers may be required to boot up all of their laptops and cellphones during the pre-flight security check.