TSA will check to see if your device turns on for international, U.S.-bound flights

As part of new security protocol at foreign airports, the United States Transportation Security Administration will require cell phones and select electronic devices to be fully charged with the ability to be powered on when going through security screening. The TSA says that devices that won't power on will not be allowed on flights headed to the U.S.

The increased security measure arises amidst concerns that al Quada may blow up a jetliner and Agency officials fear that phones, tablets, and laptops may be used as bombs. TSA will be asking travelers to power on their electronic devices at security checkpoints to verify that they are safe on board a flight.

The increased screening will be for U.S.-bound flights originating from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. So if you're headed to the U.S., be sure that your phones and electronics are fully charged before headed to the airport.

In addition to electronics-related safety concerns at airports and on planes, TSA will also be closely checking the shoes of travelers.

Source: TSA; via NBC News


Reader comments

TSA will check to see if your device turns on for international, U.S.-bound flights


Actually the TSA has authority abroad. When I fly to the US from Europe there are specific checks in place that do not apply when traveling to any other country.

The TSA does not directly have authority on foreign airports.
Airlines and airports are obliged to meet security standards set by the TSA in order to carry on operating non-stop flights. If they don't adhere to their rules, airlines/ airports can't operate flights to the US.
Posted via Android Central App

Makes sense. If I were traveling across the globe, everything would be charged anyway

Posted via Android Central App

Yeah, imagine not being allowed to carry your expensive phone or tablet just because the battery died unexpectedly. I wonder if they would allow you to plug it in for a moment to prove it works and perhaps hold a charge long enough to prove it has a battery?

That's going to create some really sticky situations. I wonder if TSA will help with a mechanism to ship the device to the traveler, or just confiscate it?

Can't they do something like take the device off the hands of the traveler along with the charger and give it to the airline so they can return the device once the passenger disembarks the aircraft?

Posted via Android Central App

That's funny; you used TSA employee and integrity in the same sentence.
Posted via Android Central App

Problem is, if the device doesn't power on, they'll do the same thing they do with bottles of liquid and other suspected "bombs"... they'll put it in a bin, in a highly-populated TSA screening area, then eventually move it elsewhere. The passenger who had the suspected bomb will still be allowed to board the plane. It's a complete joke.

When I forgot about a knife in my carry-on, they had a relatively simple, but fee-based, system where I could ship the illegal item home. Presumably something similar would work here.

Posted via Android Central App

Last couple times I forgot about a multi tool with a blade in my bag they didn't even end up finding it, I found it when I unpacked (and actually gave it to a friend with checked baggage on the way back)... And this is on a relatively simple messenger bag. Their screening still sucks.

Domestically, that does work, and I've used it before. This is for international flights, where international shipping rates (and shipping times) apply. It may not work so easily.

Wouldn't it make more sense to just have an outlet and tell travelers they need to have access to their charger so they can power on a device that is plugged in? This fully charged requirement seems a bit excessive.

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I don't think they need to see a 100% charge on your phone...just as long as they can see your phone is fully functioning. I think they may be saying to have a fully charged phone just so people are more cautious about it and don't come with a low battery and then their battery dies and a whole big mess arises.

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Most airports dont even have a bench for you to sit on to put your shoes back on, let alone get redressed.

That makes total sense... Therefore they will never do it. They aren't proving their value unless they are 1) maximizing your inconvenience or 2) waiting money buying fancy machines from well connected firms that don't catch anything but do give you cancer.

Some devices will bypass the battery when plugged into I the wall so it wouldn't be effectively testing the battery to its fullest. I posted below that its the unstable discharged lithium batteries that can even randomly explode and cause a big enough explosion or fire to cause a lot of damage in a plane. Seeing that the battery itself turns on and is stable is why this is happening. Class 9 hazardous materials, lithium batteries, cannot ship on planes if used and discharged but are allowed in consumer electronics as long as they are functional. They've just never implemented a way of checking to see if they are, till now. A good size laptop battery can potentially punch a hole in a plane if rigged to. Some videos out there of laptops and phones heating up and setting on fire, one in an airport too if I remember.

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Did not realize this. I still don't see why you couldn't divert someone to a holding room, force them to charge their device (for say 10min) and then test it. Or better yet provide charging stations before the security check for anyone who needs it. A delay is better than losing a presumably valuable piece of electronics or not being able to fly. Most passenger's will reasonably try to avoid this scenario by charging devices ahead of time but this way you don't unnecessarily screw a person who is maybe at the end of multiple trips and has a legitimate reason to have a dead phone.

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Sounds more like they are just checking that the device is functioning and not anything about the actual batteries. Checking that the batteries haven't been tampered with sounds more logical, so it's almost certainly not what they are doing. I'm assuming that if you have many backup batteries they are just going to skip them.

This only for flights back to the US, or even in the US? Cause if I'm using my phone, the battery it ganna be dead by the time they are done screwing around with all their delays. once had a 20 hour delay in 2 hour increments.

Idk, in the hazmat certifying community this has been a discussion, as there is still a hazard of a lithium battery causing an explosion. Short it out and get it to go unstable and you'll see, test an old battery out and you'll know, lol. Throw it in a fire and stand back if u dont believe me. They already screen for explosive materials with xray and Chem sniffers so anything not normal about the device should be found already. Logically, this seems to me like it points more toward the battery, and the functionality of it to power on the device. But who knows. When more is found out of the why then maybe it'll be clear.

Posted via Android Central App

If discharged batteries are the danger, whats to prevent someone from having a fully charged laptop, pass through this, and then run through PCMark for a few hours once the 8+ international flight gets up to cruising altitude? Hell, just boot into Linux with ACPI disabled in the kernel :) Discharged battery on demand, to do what you wish.

If a passenger is too dumb to charge their phone before they leave on a trip, they probably won't remember to carry a charger with them, either.

These are people returning from trips so yes I can see people having dead batteries after extensively using them during the trip

Posted via Android Central App on my daily driver, the Droid MAX

Not funny how idiots like you live in a fantasy world where you believe there is no existential threat to your way of life. And you'll remain in willful denial until your empty head is lopped off. Fool.

Posted by sheer force of will from my Nexus 5!

It only has to happen once, fool. I guess you don't pay attention to facts, like the fact that a terrorist boarded a US bound flight with a bomb in his underwear, another with a bomb in his shoe. And other terrorists shipped bombs built into printer cartridges.

Yeah, this is all hype. There really aren't any terrorists in the world. You're a fool.

I don't believe that the government will save the day, but I don't see a problem with requiring your phone to be operational before you take it on the plane. This isn't like they are accosting you on the street. Airlines are a business and can institute all sorts of silly rules if they wanted. Sadly, our cellphones are not one of our unalienable rights. The worst part is that people get more upset about something like this than they do when their privacy is invaded or their freedom of speech is limited. I mean, "hey NSA, feel free to steal all of my data and monitor everything I do. Just please don't make me put my phone down (even if the battery is dead)."

Yet I still am far more likely to die of a shark attack or lightning strike.

Please tell me, fool, how many terrorists have the TSA caught?

Posted via a Sony Z1

You're more likely to drown in a bath tub than die from a terrorist. You're also WAY more likely to be killed by police than a terrorist.

"the fact that a terrorist boarded a US bound flight with a bomb in his underwear, another with a bomb in his shoe. And other terrorists shipped bombs built into printer cartridges."
And that's where your argument falls apart. Those terrorists successfully bypassed TSA checkpoints, and boarded planes with bombs. With each new type of attack, the TSA responds by checking for that same kind of attack. This approach only works if terrorists completely run out of new ideas, and this is assuming of course that they decide to attack an airplane in the first place... there are far easier targets out there with larger crowds of people. Stadiums, black friday sales, amusement parks. Terrorism is indeed real, but fighting it by throwing money at an inept government agency, who is only looking for attacks that already happened, is not going to do a thing.

And no terrorist will ever think to take out the battery and replace it with a smaller capacity one to increase capacity for other things?

Much easier to fall for the illusion of security than do the things necessary to actually increase security. Look at the Israelis for good examples of that.

Yeah, but then don't you have to somehow prove THOSE are not bombs? A watch battery would be enough to rig fake lights on such a device and the rest of what would have been battery in the thing could be explosive...

Fully Charged? I MEAN C'MON!! I use Android. Going from my vacation rental to the airport is going to use battery, especially if I am looking for my airline tickets, sending last minute emails, finalizing checkin and all that. The TSA is overstepping their boundaries now by imposing restrictions and jurisdiction over foreign nations, they need to take a breather and really find solutions rather than inconveniences to things they cant figure out how to manage. Look at El Al, one of the safest airlines in the world, racial profiling, background checks, pressurization chambers and lots of questions if you fly with them, even more so if you have a one way or cash paid ticket. Why cant the TSA be like that?

I don't think they need to see a 100% charge on your phone...just as long as they can see your phone is fully functioning. I think they may be saying to have a fully charged phone just so people are more cautious about it and don't come with a low battery and then their battery dies and a whole big mess arises.

Posted via Android Central App

Yeah phone is dead. So either it gets confiscated and you board or you don't. Sounds simple but you know people will go berzerk if they have to leave their phone behind or not board their flight because of it.

Posted via Android Central App

1) no where does it say it HAS to be fully charged, it suggests it is fully charged to avoid having it die en route to the airport and or your gate 2)the tsa is not imposing restrictions on other countries, you want into our country, you follow our rules

They don't need to see a full charge. All they need to see is that the phone turns on and is a real working phone. Common sense is a good thing these days. You see less and less of it. It's sad really

Posted via Nexus 5 Android Central App

all these terrorist bullshits are making the lives of the innocent much more difficult than it needs to be. wtf what if you didn't get a chance to charge it before you left for the airport

Posted via Android Central App

Actually most planes dont have USB or power outlets unless you fly 1st or business class (at least thats how it is internationally)

The terrorists have already won, because they have changed our way of life. Not having all these security checks would be the biggest FU to terrorists. You'd still be more likely to die of a cow attack than be a victim of a terrorist attack. They're gonna get through security if they want to. The TSA is just good at the illusion of security.

Posted via Android Central App

Have you ever played Runescape? Those damn cow attacks can take a lot of health of you aren't prepared!

Posted via Android Central App


We lost the war on terrorism many years ago when we gave up critical liberties. Nobody thinks there should be NO security at all, but it has been way overboard and serves no real purpose except to piss off everyone and waste tons of money and time.... all for the *ILLUSION* of security.

So you'd rather do nothing. Unfortunately the flight with the no security screening doesn't exist because I'm pretty sure the flight crew won't flly one.

Nobody is arguing for no security measures at all, just some balance and common sense.

Posted via Android Central App

Oh well, it's not hard to charge a phone, even if it's 10% charged. Just make sure that it's included in your checklist and you'll be alright. If it's too hard for you to charge a phone before you have a flight that you've scheduled then take the train.

Posted via Nexus 5 Android Central App

I remember when I got my first cell phone, I went through the airport for a flight from Boise, ID. They made me hit buttons just to show the screen changing to show it was a real phone.

Posted via Android Central App

Next they'll tell us that they need to read our chats and emails to make sure we're not terrorists...

Posted via Android Central App

They already do, in case you haven't been following recent news. They just don't tell you.

Posted via Android Central App

I just came back from overseas, bought two bottles of whiskey at the duty free store and when I went through security at MIA my two bottles got Confiscated it didn't matter that I got the receipt with!

Posted via Android Central App

Yup I travel a lot and you can only take liquids, gels, aerosols, etc that are less than 3.4oz each (travel size) and they all have to fit in a quart size container. Duty free shops don't tell you this because they don't wanna lose money. Some duty free shops will give you a tamper proof bag that TSA will allow as long as the receipt is from the same day and it passes a liquids check.

Posted via Android Central App

The receipt should have been enough. I would have filed a report and asked for a supervisor. That's why I try to get to airport with enough time to deal with issues that may arise.

Posted via Nexus 5 Android Central App

It's not about customs and the duty free business, it's about security. The rules are clearly posted: no more than 3 oz containers in carry-on luggage.. He could have carried them in his checked luggage.

In theory, yes. But literally everybody I've ever known checks their suitcases when they first get to the airport, well before that bottle of scotch catches their eye at the duty-free shop.

Not going to happen but I'd be happy to be checked thoroughly for 30 mins as long as it applied to everyone.

Posted via Android Central App

Really? Say there's 400 people traveling and 20 TSA goons with latex gloves to molest them. They'd have to probe 20 people each, which would take 10 hours.

You'd be OK with that?

Posted via Android Central App

Something doesn't seem right about this article unless I'm reading it wrong. TSA is only at US airports. They have no jurisdiction at foreign airports. Other countries have their own airport security but its not TSA. Because off that, luggage, and I believe passengers too, from international flights are re screened once they land in the US if they have a connecting flight.
Posted via Android Central App

Posted via Android Central App

You sir are the only person that has any common sense here... TSA operates on the US and it's territories ONLY. They have nothing to do with other countries and their policies for air travel. These countries that implement this electronic policy do it because of previous attacks that were successful or failed attempts. There's this bright idea someone came up with that involved putting explosives in a laptop or other electronics and using it to blow up people. And the device usually won't turn on with the power switch it's remote detonated. It's actually quite clever. So instead of crying about going through security why don't you people praise the fact that you're not one of these innocent people that lose their lives in airport/bus/train station bombings in other countries.

So what would stop terrorists from retrofitting a laptop with a Raspberry Pi (or similar small low energy computer), and a battery good for 20 minutes use, then using the rest of the empty space for a bomb? It's a bit more work for them to put together, but I don't see how these measures will be very effective.

I suppose this post will get me placed on some terrorist watchlist. But really, if I can think of this, surely quite a few terrorists would have too.

Posted via Android Central App

This is the exact thing I thought of when I read the title. Not that hard to make something last for ten minutes to trick a tsa guard

Posted via Android Central App

You sir, are the only one who has no common sense. If you want to fly into the U.S. from another country, you have to follow U,S. rules. If other countries don't, their flights don't get to come here. So while the TSA can't force another country to adopt these rules, it can make it very expensive not to.

Maybe they are not called TSA but they could be US officials related to national security. Before I boarded a flight home to Australia at a foreign airport, an Aussie plain clothed guy checked me and my passport and interrogated me before I entered the boarding lounge. It happens to me a lot because of I am not a white true blue Aussie... but I am sure they let true blue aussie drunkards in with wide open arms. I was so surprised and felt so respected for the first time in an airport...which was in Honolulu of all places... they let me through in a flash with no racist treatment whatsoever and I really felt most welcome! Mahalo!

Sounds stupid to me. If they're only checking electronics from European and Middle-eastern countries, all a terrorist has to do is fly to Asia first.

Posted via Android Central App

Terrorists throws hands up in defeat.. "We surrender because the *only* countries that has flights to America are going to make us power on our iphone bomb at the security check" or "we can't blow up the airplane from Canada, we only blow up filthy Europeans and Americans"

Posted via Android Central App

They're putting the resource and effort where the most risk is.

And the government doesn't issue orders like this at random. If they're doing this, it's because our intel is picking up information that there's a real risk.

The Patriot Act was the worst assault on any freedom. It was a good idea at the time but we never thought ahead.

Posted via Android Central App

"We" never thought ahead? How many people had access to the USAPATRIOT bill, and how long did they have the final version available before the vote?! How many do you think read the entire thing before voting?

Posted via Android Central App on my HP TouchPad (Schizoid PAC-ROM 4.2.2)

What about the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 signed into law on new years day when most of the country was in a drunken stupor? It wasn't exactly a shining beacon of liberty either. Look it up.

Posted via Android Central App

considering that the US is by far the most well defended and powerful country in the world, they do sure spend a lot of effort trying to make sure their citizens are as scared and paranoid as possible. I guess there is good money to be made by keeping everyone afraid.

But does this really add anything to your safety? They say it does, but they would, it is in their interests to. And even if it does, does the benefit from doing this outweigh the very real costs to the millions of people who have to put up with this shit every time they fly?

Posted via Android Central App

And the real fallacy is that there are a zillion OTHER potential targets that have nothing to do with planes/airports. So what is next? Strip searches and anal probes at the bus station? The mall? A casino? A movie theater? A college building? A stadium? Think of the hundreds of thousands of places where groups of people are stuck together.

Ok so I've shown my device can turn on and now I've got the device fully charged so that I can do whatever bad thing I want to do to set it off with the device. Wouldn't it make sense do not have any devices at hand at all?

Posted via Android Central App

Lithium batteries are a class 9 hazard for shipping purposes, and a used battery cannot be shipped on planes. So its possible with the right knowhow for someone to rig a used battery, discharged, to explode. Most likely this is the reason for it to show a percentage of health. Not so much a "full" charge, just a percentage of health and functioning properly. A dead used and unstable battery would not operate the device and hence would be a safety hazard.

Posted via Android Central App

Do you have any idea how an x-ray machine works, or what a dirty bomb is? Clearly not, because you can't make one from the other.

The actual risk of a terrorist attack is very small to start with. And there hasn't been any proof the TSA had actual even stopped a single terrorist. So what are you actually getting for all this inconvenience?

Posted via Android Central App

I have never felt anymore less welcome to a country then when I visited the states. Waiting for over an hour to be questioned my reason for traveling and giving all my fingerprints and even a photo. By some cocky US patriot who thinks they're better then everyone. And now this. I think this terrorist protection is going a little overboard. They're already spying on everything and anyone, even allied countries (which obviously means nothing to them), so they should have a pretty good idea who is linked with who and is traveling where.

Sorry for the rant. Just think this is a little to much. If your phone's battery is dead you can't even take it on the plane, ridiculous.

Posted via Android Central App

Well said! It seems like the TSA is just like all the other US agencies; completely over the top, massively heavy handed with zero oversight, and spend fuck loads to justify their existence.

Posted via Android Central App

I'm sorry you feel that way about my country ): Many Americans are just as frustrated if not more so than people from other countries about our idiotic officials and politicians.

Posted from my Motorola Moto G

Then don't come to the U.S. Go to Israel instead, and see what real airport security is. Of go to Iraq. Not much security at all there. You should enjoy it.

I'm sorry, I agree with you, however..., just as Fox News and CNN I don't consider the populist Huffington Post a reliable source of any kind of factual information. I think you shouldn't either.
Posted via Android Central App

Ah yes, "Homeland Security Theater" the show that's been running for almost 13 straight years. When all is said and done the chances of being injured or killed in a terrorist event has always been almost infinitesimally small, and the machinations of "Homeland Security Theater" have not really had an effect on those odds. If somebody really wants to take an airliner down they can do it if they have half a brain to offset their delusional religious beliefs. Besides you stand a better chance of dying in a crash based on human error or equipment failure due to airline cost cutting than due to some terrorist action. The hijackers on 9/11/2001 gained control of the airlines because of the lack of reinforced doors between the cabin and the cockpit. That issue was remedied within a few weeks of 9/11. "Homeland Security Theater" is currently little more than a jobs program and a government subsidy program for industries that profit off fear.

Sounds similar to the US military industrial complex. For a nation that supposedly doesn't believe in huge Government spending they do seem awfully eager to spend it in certain areas.
Posted via Android Central App

Never heard of underwear bombs, shoe bombs, and printer cartridge bombs, eh? All of which have been used to try to bring down U.S. bound flights.

I just want my fast lane. Walk down a row of holy books, place my hand on each say a quick Hassa diga eebowai to each god and I'm through security. I also much prefer that Allahu Akbar with an extra word in the middle الله ليس أكبر. I miss Christopher Hitchens. And now to see how many stupid fellow Americans just comment without bothering to see what any of those foreigner words mean.

Only stupid people think your can make flights that safe, and even if you could they'd just pick one of hundreds of other targets...

Brings a whole new meaning to the term "photo bomb".

Posted via a beautiful Ebony backed Moto X or the amazing Nexus 10 using the totally awesome Android Central App

Does this apply to US domestic flights? The 9/11 terrorists used domestic flights so it would make sense to roll this out on those flights first instead?

I flew in November 2001 and they made me pull out my laptop and power it on at the check points. They also swabbed it for bomb residue.

I feel bad for iPhone and nexus 5 users. Their phones are always dying. Me specifically. I miss my Note 2 battery. Hopefully android l will help my nexus 5, otherwise the lg g3 is calling me. If it has same battery level as g2 then I'm set.

Posted via Nexus 5 Android Central App

I work at an airport where I see passengers do the stupidest things or think that they can "argue" with us ticketing or gate agents.. a simple call and they're on the no fly list forever.. I would like to speak as a whole that whatever TSA has implemented it's normally for a good reason from an airline/airport point of view

Posted via Android Central App

the tsa does have good reasons sometimes yes but not always and the passangers that do argue would be more likely to cooperate if you had reasons other than just because it would be alot more helpful thanks. also following such regulations without actually knowing why shows complete lack of professionalism and that your just a drone. in the case of this phone regulation it wont actually work and is just for show to justify existance by saying look we are doing "something" and create a false sense of security. take this advice from someone who is actually an expert in electronics engineering (trust me the tsa isnt ) there are simple ways to get round this and still do bad things using phones though im not going to post them as people would go and do bad things then and it would suck though they would probably get ideas elsewhere as im sure im not the only one with knowledge/qualifiications in electronics. also what is really questionable is why they even need to do this when they can just use there xray machines to see every part of a phone? there just wasting time and resources on an ineffective measure that will only inconvenience passangers and not prevent anything.

Way back when they made me power on the device and press the buttons on my phone. And that was a old flip phone.

Posted via Android Central App

Android Central got this wrong. Unsurprisingly, as fact checking isn't a strong point here.

The regulations require only that the device power on, NOT that it have a 100% charge.

I guess this is a required safety precaution in addition to strip searching little children.

Posted via Android Central App

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that the reason everything goes thru the xray? Even us?

Posted via Android Central App

No your not wrong but x-ray is to check for anything dangerous like knives, guns, and maybe explosives if they see wire like thing sticking out of the object seen.. I did there test on x-raying items... But they can't tell if the bomb if there is or(if) are any active explosive or device that's why you see this post.. Its like a double check if they missed anything
Posted via Android Central App

The folks manning the X-ray machines aren't electrical engineers and can't verify that the circuitry hasn't been tampered with or that it really is a phone (or tablet, or iPod, etc). They see a battery and some circuit boards.

They X-ray it to make sure you have nothing inside that shouldn't be there. And yes, they can tell based on the objects density if it is contraband. Should you have explosives inside, that will be caught before it even reaches the X-ray machine unless you've invented a new explosive that can't be detected by chemical traces.

The requirement to power it on is to prove it's really a phone and not something like a stun gun.

I'll stay out of the argument of this being necessary or not. :)

Thank for the response. I was trying to answer his question the best I can
Posted via Android Central App

This is crazy!! So if i forget to charge my phone or the cpu randomly decides to suck the battery dry, i have to just give up my several hundred dollar phone?? Security theater at its worst!! You think the terrorists couldnt build a bomb inside a phone that also powers on? Please! This will also make the secirity lines take even longer than they already do. They might as well just tell us we can't take anything with us on flights.

Yet again the TSA has proven they are worthless. This "policy" is such a joke. If an electronic device turns on or not, it can create havoc in the air. Besides, what are they really looking at in the X-Ray machine? Shouldn't the machine catch any issues. I'm all about safety but this is just crazy...just as crazy as the liquid restrictions. Just continued reactive activity instead of being proactive.

They have detectors for the usual chemicals inside bombs, so they don't need to power up the device anyway. At least on every european international airport. So this is absolutely useless, and, yes: scaremongering.

To be completely fair, what everyone seems to forget is that most devices last longer than 6 hours on a full charge. So if your devices are all fully charged and you are not watching movies on the plane on your MacBook Air or similar, you'll be fine. Besides, they offer enough onboard entertainment to NOT have to use your own device. For business purposes, do your homework before you leave, but if you happen to get a faulty iPhone where the battery just dies on you (Is why I have a Samsung S5), then, there are ways to get out of this... Providing you are travelling on a respectable Airliner and first class or business with papers validating you actually DO have business to attend to. Otherwise, cool it, it's 6 hours, take a nap.

The Samsung wall hugger adverts seem even more appropriate now.. they need a new version where all the iPhone owners are being thrown out the airport or sent to prison as suspected terrorists because they can't turn their phones on and can't swap in a good battery.