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Thread: Electronic devices which won't power up to be banned from flights

  1. #1
    Registered User PaulT00's Avatar
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    Unhappy Electronic devices which won't power up to be banned from flights

    I was a bit taken aback by this piece of news, which has apparently already taken effect.

    Mobiles 'could be barred from flights' if not charged - Telegraph

    There has been discussion in some quarters about the possibility that eventually terrorists might be able to produce devices which can both power up and also potentially go bang, which could lead ultimately to all electronic devices being banned from airplanes...
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    Registered User bchaplin's Avatar
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    As someone already pointed out in Flyertalk, what will they do with the confiscated, "explosive" mobiles? Probably toss them in a trash can next to the checkpoint. Very safe!

    It is a theatre of the absurd. C4 could just as easily be packed in a brush, hair dryer, shoe....
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    I think it's more likely they'll just have to install power strips at the checkpoint and force you to plug it in and power it up.
    So if this is really implemented, what it means is that check in timings will have to be even earlier to account for the check.

    With the number of people who carry electronic devices on board a flight, I really don't think they could just ban the devices without a backlash. As it is, laptops even have to be scanned individually.
    And additionally, what's the percentage of travelers who let their devices drain out completely just before a flight anyway?
    So hopefully, this won't be blown out of proportion.

    I'm hoping common sense wins out here, we do know they have limits in their quest for security, after all, passengers weren't made to remove their underwear at the checkpoint following the arrest of the underwear bomber. (I don't mean to make light of that incident, but I will admit to having a case of rofl when I imagined security agents scrambling to check all worn underwear)
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    Registered User PaulT00's Avatar
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    Sounds like someone might have a lucrative sideline in selling on confiscated mobile phones... </cynic>

    Many years ago I had to travel for work with a couple of PC base units, the materials on which were certainly proprietary and definitely sensitive. What's the position on what would happen if I refused to power up a device because it contained sensitive material which could be compromised?

    I hope common sense will prevail too, but I do wonder...
    Last edited by PaulT00; 07-07-2014 at 05:45 AM.
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  5. #5
    Registered User bchaplin's Avatar
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    It would be an interesting experiment to let an iPhone be confiscated and use the tracking feature to follow where it ends up.
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    Amy
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    I remember several years ago that TSA would sometimes ask you to power up your device when going through security. This was in the late 2000s, I think, because I remember having to turn on my blackberry for TSA to demonstrate that it really was a phone.

    At some point they gave that up.

    So I guess this means that the convenience of checkpoint-friendly bags like the cache with rails would be out the window.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulT00 View Post
    Sounds like someone might have a lucrative sideline in selling on confiscated mobile phones... </cynic>
    I don't think you have to worry about that, PaulT00, with the number of people having camera phones, there's just way too many citizen journalists out there waiting to get a video of that happening, then posting onto Facebook and YouTube. :P
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    The extrapolation that all electronics would be banned is a little absurd. Honestly, they could put explosives in even functioning electronics. There is a fair amount of dead space in many "larger" laptops, or non-essential parts could be easily removed (like a DVD drive). Ban all electronics and they would just build them into something you don't suspect is electronic, hide a battery inside to power it, and they've circumvented the whole thing. What's next after that? Banning you from carrying anything at all? A few too many tin foil hats being worn over at Flyertalk today...

    Realistically, a balance needs to be struck between inconvenience, and enforceability. A total electronics ban goes against both of those. Business travel would be completely crippled (which is a fair majority of the airline industry's clientele), and the logistics of enforcing a full all out ban are immense (training, increased time opening every bag to remove electronics, disposal or return shipping logistics, etc.). I can't even fathom what that would take to police. Get them better bomb sniffing equipment and better training, use your intelligence network to identify threats, and handle it proactively.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulT00 View Post
    Many years ago I had to travel for work with a couple of PC base units, the materials on which were certainly proprietary and definitely sensitive. What's the position on what would happen if I refused to power up a device because it contained sensitive material which could be compromised?

    I hope common sense will prevail too, but I do wonder...
    Quote Originally Posted by Amy View Post
    I remember several years ago that TSA would sometimes ask you to power up your device when going through security. This was in the late 2000s, I think, because I remember having to turn on my blackberry for TSA to demonstrate that it really was a phone.

    At some point they gave that up.

    So I guess this means that the convenience of checkpoint-friendly bags like the cache with rails would be out the window.
    I think I can answer this part, the sensitive material should be encrypted, right? What they want is for you to just boot up the device to show that it's not a bomb masquerading as a device, like what Amy had to do, they won't scan through your files, god knows how long a check will take if they do.
    BUT, if they wanted to check for illegal pornography, however.... well that's a totally different issue.

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    This is the case, once again, of Fleet Street, or I guess the London Docklands now, of getting the story wrong.

    TSA is asking some airports around the world to have passengers on U.S. bound flights power up their cellphones. They don't have to be fully charged. Just enough to prove they are real.

    If your device does not power up, the security personnel may not allow it on the flight. They don't automatically confiscate it. You will have the option of leaving the line, giving it to someone not traveling, or mailing it home.

    This is not happening at TSA checkpoints in the U.S.
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    Thank you, FrankII for a much-needed clarification.
    The stockpile keeps growing...I'm in serious trouble.

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    Actually, it sounds like British Airways is taking a really hard line on this: if the device won't power up you will be pulled from the flight and rebooked.

    Airport security: you won't fly to the US if your mobile phone battery is dead - Telegraph

    Seems a bit much, no? No other carrier is taking such a hard line....

    I checked the BA website and it outlines the details pretty clearly. They are the only airline doing this-- making people rebook if stuff won't power up. I wonder if they will ease the rules in the next few days.

    I'm glad I'm not flying overseas this summer. I remember I was on a research trip getting ready to fly back to grad school when the whole liquid thing happened. I was at the airport the morning that the new restrictions were put in place-- I hadn't even heard about it yet. It was chaos at the St Louis airport as they made people throw everything out and and weren't letting anyone carry anything on because the airlines did not know what was up or down. Chaos. They made me check my carryon even though I had no liquids in it. I had one-bagged it and I remember frantically buying a cheap tote at the airport, unloading my laptop, wallet and a knitting project in it, and checking my carryon. Which they lost. For days (it finally turned up some time later) and people were stressed and I was really grateful that I had fed exed all the documents back directly from the archive. It was a mess....
    Last edited by atarango1; 07-07-2014 at 11:11 PM.

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    Registered User monkeylady's Avatar
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    Yes, the Brits are very conscientious, after years of awful conflict with the IRA and bombings galore. And especially if there's any intel that evens suggests it could be a BA flight or a flight originating in GB.
    The stockpile keeps growing...I'm in serious trouble.

  14. #14
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    UK airports are sticklers for some rules - as I've mentioned elsewhere, they insist on a standard 20cm x 20cm ziplock bag for 3-1-1, no alternatives (including TB clear cubes) accepted.

    And back on topic, back in 2011 my husband's MBA was almost withheld at Marco Polo airport after he left it behind at the security check and then couldn't power it up because the battery was flat and the charger was in his checked suitcase. So this is not exactly a new concern in Europe, though it's new for it to be official policy.

    ETA: now I think about it, on my recent trip to the US I had to remove my iPad Mini from my bag at Heathrow, whereas that wasn't required for my return flight from Minneapolis-St Paul. European airlines are already more paranoid about small electronics...
    Last edited by scribe; 07-11-2014 at 12:22 AM.
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  15. #15
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    If I may offer another perspective -

    We do several things to prepare for a trip - whether we're flying someplace on business, to visit friends and family, to some vacation spot, or back home. We pack our liquids in the proper size containers. We pack clothes. Perhaps we pack some emergency food. Perhaps we check in online. We bring certain travel documents along with a backup copy.

    We do all of these things to prepare so that our trip goes smoothly.

    I would imagine that the night before, many if not all of us also charge the batteries in the electronics we are bringing with us. It may be something we do on a nightly basis anyhow.

    The question is - what happens if we use our electronics onboard our flight, and there is no charging port at our seat, and we have a connecting flight, and the batteries run low. This is where we will need to exercise a little discipline and stop using that device once the battery gets to, say, 10%.

    Or what happens if our travels take us to places where we don't have access to electricity and are coming back with dead devices?

    Now we have to get to the airport a little earlier, and charge our devices enough so that we can pass through security. Or we bring one of those battery packs that can charge the batteries in our device. Or we bring a solar charger. Basically, this comes down to more bulk we need to carry in order to address this new requirement.

    Now, most of us - well, at least me - we can't do much to change the situation.

    We can choose moan and grumble, and we'll still have to deal with this new requirement. Or we can choose to approach it with an attitude of - this is what I need to do to address this situation, and it's no big deal.

    I would personally prefer to take the latter approach. I guess I'm lazy, and the latter approach requires less effort overall!

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