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The US Department of Homeland Security insists that passengers boarding America-bound jets in the UK have all their electronic equipment checked, and specifies that devices that cannot be powered up must not travel with the passenger. But confusion reigns about what happens to passengers carrying electronic gear with flat batteries.
According to the Independent the crackdown follows the apparent detection of another plot to down an flight to the US, this time using explosives smuggled aboard hidden in a laptop, tablet computer or smartphone.
British Airways initially took a hard-line stance, warning travellers with non-functioning devices that they would be barred from the plane: “If, when asked to do so, you are unable to demonstrate that your device has power you will not be allowed to fly on your planned service.”
In other words, a passenger whose e-reader had run out of power during a connecting flight to Heathrow and who could not recharge it in time would be offloaded from the transatlantic departure: even if they were prepared to have the item confiscated. Later, that policy softened to: “The device will not be allowed to travel on your planned service.”