American airlines have always had the strictest of security related policies. People have been frisked, prodded, poked and stripped, all in the name of offering safer air travel. But the latest norm has caused quite a furor at the departure terminals. Passengers are being held back for their gadgets. While this technique might have been executed earlier, the latest amendment in the law makes it mandatory for the gadgets to be charged and fully functioning to prevent detention and delay at the airport.
The United States of America has made a policy decision about airport and air-travel security that has left many passengers flummoxed. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has decided not to allow mobile phones or other electronic devices on U.S.-bound planes at some overseas airports if the devices are not charged. The new measure is part of the TSA’s effort to significantly scale-up security amid concerns that Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamist Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, are plotting to blow up an airliner, reported The Straits Times.
Needless to say, the new measure caused chaos at the airport as unaware passengers were ‘caught’ with ‘dead’ electronics. Interestingly, the new directive by the TSA affects flights out of Africa, the Middle East and Europe. But, TSA officials haven’t confirmed which airports will have such a policy enforced. Still, there are reports that have confirmed smartphones, particularly iPhones and Samsung’s Galaxy Android phones, will be singled out and inspected, reported Channel 4.
As part of the increased scrutiny at certain airports, security agents may ask travelers to turn on their electronic devices at checkpoints, and if they do not have power, the devices will not be allowed on planes, confirmed TSA. Airports are always swarming with people using their smartphones, tablet computers and laptops. Hence there isn’t an iota of doubt that such a measure will create frantic searches for chargers at airports, and one US source familiar with the matter said laptop computers are also among the devices that will be scrutinized.
A few security experts are also cautioning that laptops, owing to their bulky form factor, may also be asked to be booted-up before they are allowed on the flight. Additionally, airlines or airport operators that fail to strengthen security could face bans on flights entering the United States.
U.S officials are clearly concerned that a cellphone, tablet, laptop or another electronic device could be disguised bomb, and given the advancements in plastics-based explosives, even such a petite form factor could prove deadly. Apparently, officials fear that the terrorists have figured out how to turn the phones into explosive devices that can avoid detection.
Stepping up airport security has become one of the top priorities after 9/11, but is this measure taking it too far?
[Image Credit | Ralph Orlowski Via Reuters, Â Frances M. Roberts]