Uncharged iPhones & iPads banned from US & UK flights

UK airline passengers boarding flights to mainland Europe and America are being ordered to ensure their smartphones and tablets are fully charged before passing through airport security.

As reported by IT Pro at the beginning of the week, a similar directive has been introduced for those boarding direct flights to the United States.

The guidance has been introduced as part of a move to step up aviation security. The measures are being introduced by the US Department of Homeland Security and enforced in the UK by the Department for Transport.

The US Department of Homeland Security has not specified why the measures are being introduced, only that the move is part of its ongoing work to promote aviation security.

At the time of writing, the UK terrorist threat level is unchanged, and remains "substantial."

In a statement, it said: "We are sharing recent and relevant information with our foreign allies and are consulting the aviation industry.

"These communications are an important part of our commitment to providing our security partners with situational awareness about the current environment and protecting the travelling public."

As a result, travellers are being warned that as part of the existing screening process for electronic devices they may be asked to switch on their devices.

The Department for Transport has since released updated guidance to UK airline passengers that uncharged electronic devices will not be permitted on "some routes".

"In line with the US advice, passengers on some routes into and out of the UK may now also be required to show that electronic devices in their hand luggage are powered up or face not being allowed to bring the device onto the aircraft," a Department statement read.

"Passengers flying into our out of the UK are therefore advised to make sure electronic devices being carried in their hand luggage are charged before they travel."

At the time of writing, no further details about what routes will be affected have been given, although reports suggest the new rules will be introduced on all flights to and from mainland Europe, as well as to the US.

If the devices can't be switched on because they have flat batteries or are defective, travellers will have to leave them behind and possibly face additional screening measures.

The new rules have prompted calls for people to give themselves even more time to pass through airport security.

UK travellers preparing for long-haul flights to the United States are requested to arrive and check-in at the airport at least three hours before they are due to take-off.

The US Department of Homeland Security added that it will be working to ensure passenger disruption is kept to a minimum as a result of the new rules.

In a further statement released earlier this week, the Department for Transport said it would not be commenting "in detail" on the changes, and assured passengers that the vast majority of them will not suffer "significant disruption" as a result of the move.

"The safety and security of the public is our paramount concern. The UK has some of the most robust aviation security measures and we will continue to take all the steps necessary to ensure that public safety is maintained," it added.

As reported by IT Pro yesterday, British Airways has already warned passengers they will be unable to board their flights if they have uncharged devices with them.

The airline has confirmed that passengers may face additional checks at its boarding gates to ensure people are complying with the new rules.

These checks will also apply to people who purchase devices in the airport before take-off, the company warned.

This article was originally published on Monday 7 July, and updated today to reflect updated guidance for UK travellers from the Department for Transport.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.