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'Charge phones before flying,' say US security officials

Passengers flying to US will not be allowed on board with devices that cannot be powered up

Etihad displays US and UAE flags upon arrival of the inaugural flight from Abu Dhabi International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport last month.
Etihad displays US and UAE flags upon arrival of the inaugural flight from Abu Dhabi International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport last month.

Passengers from "certain overseas airports" flying to the US are being told to have their mobile phones, tablets and other electronic devices charged before they board the flight, online reports say.

It is unclear at present what the situation is in the UAE, as the list of airports has not yet been published. The General Civil Aviation Authority and Emirates Airline are preparing statements at the moment but have no comment as yet.

Chris Youlten, Etihad Airways vice president network operations told ITP.net: "At present, Etihad Airways has not been impacted by such measures. The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Pre-Clearance Facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport has created an added layer of protection, and this was pre-defined by the US and UAE governments as one of the reasons why this facility was introduced in the emirate. Pre-cleared flights already require enhanced security measures which have been in place since the facility opened.

"Enhanced security measures are consistently being introduced at airports across the world in response to improvements in the manufacture of explosive devices. Etihad Airways monitors the development of airport screening and detection measures, both electronic and human, everywhere we fly, and we remain satisfied that those measures are currently very effective."

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UK airports, Manchester and Heathrow have both announced the new ruling today, which says that if a "device doesn't switch on, you won't be allowed to bring it onto the aircraft".

The statement from the US Transport Security Administration (TSA) said: "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."

According to the BBC, US officials said last week they were aware of a "credible" terrorist threat, but have not linked the security changes to any specific intelligence.

Airline staff in the UK are said to be carrying out checks on devices at boarding gates and British Airways has warned its customers that even newly purchased devices from an airport shop must have power: "If your device doesn't power up when you are requested to do so, you will not be allowed to fly to the US on your original service. Our customer services team will look after the rebooking of your travel arrangements," it said on its website.

The UK Department for Transport declined to say whether other UK airports would enforce similar restrictions on flights to the US. So far, the UK, France and Germany have all said they would comply with the American demands but it is still not clear how many airports will be affected, or if passengers will be delayed.