The UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) has responded to new security measures issued by the US Transport Security Administration (TSA) by banning mobile devices with flat batteries from all flights bound for the US.
Passengers have been permitted to use electronic devices ‘gate-to-gate’ only for a few months after fears over interference with aircraft navigation systems had finally been allayed. The latest concerns stem from fears that Islamist terror groups in Yemen and Syria are collaborating on the development of bombs capable of eluding traditional airport security measures.
Security at UK airports was ramped up last week in response, with some passengers travelling to the US experiencing minor delays as a result. But the authorities have now gone further, with additional measures targeting smartphones and tablets alike.
In a statement on its website, the TSA said: “As the travelling 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 on board the aircraft. The traveller may also undergo additional screening.”
Passengers leaving UK airports for the US will also have to demonstrate that their mobile devices are switched on and charged before being allowed to board their flight.
The DfT said: “The majority of passengers should not experience significant disruption. There will be no change to the threat level, which remains at substantial.”
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Malcolm Rifkind, chairman of the intelligence and security committee, said the changes to security were “unavoidable” in the face of the “devilish technical skill” employed by terror cells.