U.S. tightens security on iPhones, other electronics at overseas airports

“The Transportation Security Administration will not allow cellphones or other electronic devices on U.S.-bound planes at some overseas airports if the devices are not charged up, the agency said on Sunday,” NBC News reports.

“The new measure is part of the TSA’s effort announced last week to boost security amid concerns that Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamist Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, are plotting to blow up an airliner, U.S. officials said,” NBC News reports. “As part of the increased scrutiny at certain airports, security agents may ask travelers to turn on their electronic devices at checkpoints and if they do not have power, the devices will not be allowed on planes, the TSA said.”

“A U.S. source familiar with the matter said laptop computers are among the devices security screeners may require passengers to turn on,” NBC News reports. “U.S. officials singled out smartphones including iPhones made by Apple and Galaxy phones made by Samsung Electronics for extra security checks on U.S.-bound direct flights from Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The TSA also called for closer checks on travelers’ shoes.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Make sure your batteries are charged so that you can power up befofe you hit security!


  1. The headline and MDN’s tag are both stupid.

    This has absolutely nothing to do with batteries being charged up. You can make it through with a 10% charge on your iPhone just fine.

    It has everything to do with proving that your cell phone and/or laptop are fully functional. For a short period after 9/11 the TSA required all travelers, randomly on demand by the TSA, to turn on their laptop before they were allowed to take it beyond the security checkpoint. This is no different.

    Bye the way, back then the fast wake from sleep and going back to sleep as soon as you closed the lid made going through the TSA checkpoint much, much faster than any Windows laptop.

  2. This has been the rule applied to me ever since cell phones came out. Also, “batteries charged” doesn’t mean what some people might think. All you have to do is make sure the thing has enough charge to boot up. Even a 1% charge can do that.

    By the way, I wonder what happens to windows laptops with batteries that cannot hold a charge. I used to have one that could hold zero charge and I used it in “plugged in mode” only. Ever since we converted to Apple laptops we have had no issue with batteries….but I ask for those who are still forced to use crappy windoze machines.

      1. I have an iBook that is 7 years old and no longer holds a charge. I still use it and haven’t had a new to upgrade yet. It still works fine.
        No windowz here

  3. If I were a bomb designer, I don’t think that my first choice of phone would be an iPhone as it’s one of the smallest phones available. I would be much more tempted to use a larger phone as it would offer the opportunity to carry a bigger explosive payload.

    I very much hope that part of the check on phones involves x-ray examination which can reveal modifications to the phone. It should be fairly straightforward to compare an X-ray with a stored image of what they are expected to look like on the inside.

  4. Carrying around a portable phone charge is a good idea. I always find the phone drains a lot faster when traveling or sightseeing. Probably due to being in areas where signal is weak and the phone needs more power to connect.
    It would really suck if the TSA confiscated your phone because the battery died.

    1. I don’t think they would confiscate it. They would probably take you and your belongings over to the chemical analysis machine and wipe down your phone, luggage handles, whatever, and run that through the machine.

      1. Alternatively, it’s pretty da** trivial to just take the cover off on some devices and see the entire circuit. I mean, the same way you change battery packs when you need a quick swap to a fresh one on a long vacation. Oh wait…. 😀 But for tablets, that is generally true. You just use a credit card-style knife, and all the cheaper tablets’ shells come right off. Then they just snap back on.

        A better question is why not just have USB charging stations right there? 5 seconds on a phone with one of those and you’re done.

        Man, thank goodness I don’t fly! I’d just about go crazy sitting in line for all this acting. And doing it both ways, hehe.

  5. I once had to take a Macintosh IIfx through airport security. They did not ask me to open it up. They did ask me to turn it on. With no monitor, they heard the C Major chord and the green power light came on. Six (6) empty NuBus slots could have been filled with………

  6. If this is eventually extended to the U.S., it is going to slow down TSA lines that are already slow and long. It is also a flawed solution, since it should be fairly easy to add a tiny bit of electronics and a small battery to power the display with an appropriate graphics, then use the rest of the chassis volume for nefarious purposes.

    This type of inspection works, to an extent. But, when it becomes overly burdensome, we need to find other ways.

    1. Security is increasingly moving towards much more surveillance and passenger profiling rather than detection. Metal detectors and CT scanners are there for appearance and deterrence as much as detection. Swabbing for explosive materials is very effective but also slow. Ultimately whatever we develop, they’ll always be someone who can get around it. It’s about knowing who that person might be rather than trying to catch them just before they get on a flight. Increased security at the gates is just to make us feel better.

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