TSA: For international flights, electronic devices must power up

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International air travelers should make sure that they charge their personal electronic devices before they attempt to get through airport security when they return to the United States.

Airport security agents will confiscate any cellphones, notebook computers and tablet computers that can’t be powered up when you pass through security checkpoints at certain overseas airports that facilitate direct flights to the United States, according to security measures that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) introduced.

TSA spokesperson Ross Feinstein wouldn’t explain why the agency implemented the changes.

However, aviation security expert Jeff Price believes that the new policy is designed to prevent possible new terrorism plots that involve terrorists loading an electronic device with explosives. Price says an electronic device that has been fitted with an explosive won’t be capable of completing typical functions, such as powering on. As a result, security agents will treat a notebook computer, smartphone or tablet that has no power as a red flag.

“Notifying the public puts everyone on alert and lets the bad guys know that [TSA] is on to them, which may delay or deter the plot,” says Price, who is a national trainer for airport security coordinators and an aviation professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

TSA didn’t identify which airports will implement the new security measures.

Travelers who can’t power up their devices won’t be allowed to bring the devices on the flight, and they could be subject to additional screening, TSA says.

Department of Homeland Security tells Consumers Digest that whether affected electronic devices will be returned to owners—by mail or otherwise—will be up to the individual airports that follow the security policy.

– K. Carlson