Travel News

Uncharged Phones Not Allowed on Some US-bound Flights

Earlier this week, the TSA announced that certain airports in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa will need to institute another layer of security checks. These security checks call for the powering on of phones and laptops and are required, if the agents asks. If the unit cannot power on, then it is not allowed on the plane.

A lot of people are really upset about this new rule which is already in place in some airports, including London Heathrow. It translates to the loss of your cell phone if you are proceeding on to the secure zone and your cell phone battery is dead. Since the focus is mostly on iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones, that is not a very inexpensive proposition!

Avoiding losing your electronics

In reality, I think there will not be a lot of people that this will affect. While I have boarded a few airplanes with a dead cellphone, that has not happened of late for a few reasons: 1) I use mobile boarding passes for most of my flights 2) I am normally using my phone right up until boarding 3) I use my phone on the plane and to access my itineraries and 4) I typically power on my cellular portion of the phone as soon as I land to talk to whomever I need to. I am sure some of you fit into those categories of use as well and so would also not be caught with a dead phone/computer at security!

There are few things that you can do to avoid losing your electronics. Since they are largely looking at computers and phones, take a few minutes before entering the security area to plug your devices in. If there is not an outlet present, plug your phone into your computer and turn it on for a few minutes.

Another thing to do is to bring a backup power supply/charging unit. However, I do not like the extra space they take in my bag and I tend to keep my units charged up so do not find myself in a situation to need one. But, if you are the type of person to burn through your unit’s battery, a backup supply/charging unit may be just the thing.

If you do forget this and find yourself in line have to turn on your phone, you are still okay. Simply plug your phone into your computer (which you will more than likely also need to turn on) and turn the phone on. All the phone needs is a few seconds before it will turn on while connected to a power source.

How can the TSA require it?

I have heard quite a few people wonder how the TSA can require other countries to enforce things like this. If you have ever traveled internationally and checked in to go to an airport not located in the US, the security may be a little more lax than it is in the USA. Also, you may have been in airports where flights to the US will have additional security lines at the gates. This is done because it is required by the US Government. If it is not observed, the airport can lose the ability to fly to the US. The government send spotters through from time time to check if the security procedures are being followed. Since no airport/airline wants to lose the ability to fly to the US, they will be following this TSA directive.

An old security tactic?

This is actually something that has been used at many airports for a while now, not just for flights that are bound to the US. I have had to turn my devices on at several airports in Europe, even though I was not flying to the US (nor was any flight from that airport!).

So, this has been in place for a while in several countries and is now in place in ours. It will probably be something not even noticeable by the majority of passengers since they will have devices with charges in them. For everyone else, start getting prepared! 🙂

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

1 Comment

  • As I understand it, this does not apply to airports in the US. Apparently TSA thinks the technology to build these bombs exists only in foreign countries. With this rule if your phone is dead because you forgot your charger I guess it will be necessary to buy another one if available. Buying a new charge cord for a laptop is expensive and they are hard to find.