TSA Bans Uncharged Cellphones on Certain Flights


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The U.S. Transportation Security Administration announced Sunday that it will not allow cellphones or other electronics on U.S.-bound planes originating at some international airports if the devices are not charged up. The ban is part of heightened security measures surrounding Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamist Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, seeking to blow up a jetliner.

Passengers will be required to power up their devices at certain security checkpoints, to assure that the encasement is not a hidden bomb. Laptops and tablets will be included in the checks, and U.S. officials have stated that security officers will be paying closer attention to passengers' shoes, as they can be used as bombs as well.

The added security will apply primarily to U.S.-bound direct flights from Europe, the Middle East and Africa, though the TSA did not specify which airports will be affected, and said in a statement, "As the traveling 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 onboard the aircraft. The traveler may also undergo additional screening."

U.S. officials have feared that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) bomb makers have figured out how to fashion a difficult to detect explosive device into a smartphone. Interestingly, American authorities have singled out the Apple iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy series as the phones to keep an eye on as being potential bombs.

Devices found to not be powered up will be confiscated, and the passenger carrying it might be taken into custody for questioning. The TSA adds, "[we] will continue to adjust security measures to ensure that travelers are guaranteed the highest levels of aviation security conducted as conveniently as possible."

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