Share this Story

TSA Will No Longer Permit Powerless Electronics on Some International Flights

A minor change was made to security checks by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) over the weekend, one that involves the electronics that you travel with. On some international flights that are headed to the US, TSA agents may check to make sure that electronics can be powered up. Should those devices that are checked not power up, the TSA may not permit them from making the flight with you.

In other words, if you are traveling internationally to the US, make sure your electronics have juice and can be powered up. Better yet, make sure things like your phone and tablet are already powered on as you go through security, if you want to make the process seamless.  

Here is a part of the statement released by the TSA:

As the traveling public knows, all electronic devices are screened by security officers. During the security examination, officers may also ask that owners power up some devices, including cell phones. Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft. The traveler may also undergo additional screening.

For most, this won’t be an issue, since you likely only travel with a phone, tablet and computer. Then there are those of us who review electronics for a living and travel with sometimes 3-4 phones, a tablet or two, and a laptop. Thankfully, we keep it domestic around these parts.

Via:  TSA | The Verge
  • feztheforeigner

    What about hard drives? Or monitors? I’m not sure what “electronics” would entail and I wouldn’t find it pleasant to install a hard drive to prove it turns on.

  • Anthony Purdy

    What about guitar pedals that have no internal battery and only run off mains power adapter

  • Obama is the new Bush

    Racial and religious profiling, best way to find terrorists. Detain the Muslims and give them extra scrutiny. No white christian or white kid is going to suicide bomb a plane. Remember it would be better to die by the hands of terrorist being free than die at the hands of a cop/fed as a slave. The only reason the TSA infringes upon everyone is because of the liberal political correct nanny state.

  • BrianL

    Or the TSA could properly train their x-ray operators to know what certain electronics are supposed to look like internally (under x-ray). An iPhone filled with explosives is obviously going to look a heck of a lot different than an iPhone from the factory.

  • JeremyY

    How ridiculous. Glad I’m not planning an international flight soon. As a filmmaker I usually carry 2 regular video cameras, a still camera, a GoPro camera, a digital audio recorder, 2 condenser microphones, and an external video monitor on top of the usual iPod, cell phone, and laptop. And yes, all carry-on. Probably going to take 10 minutes to get everything out and powered up!

  • djdsf

    Been doing this for ages whenever I try to visit anything that is government related. Heck, even the Kennedy Space Center makes you turn on your stuff and show it to them as you are walking in. Nothing new here, actually odd that it’s just getting addopted into the system.

  • Tomek G

    That policy is in place for some government buildings. They actually tell you to power on your laptop to see login screen and see that it works. Well, I can put raspberry pi to simulate windblows OS and use remaining lithium ion battery to create sparky bomb.

  • tiev

    Why is it that I find myself wondering how long they’ll ask people to “power on” these devices before one of these so-called devices really aren’t and actually “go off” taking them and the TSA with them?

  • h_f_m

    Wait.. so if I just add a “fake” one of those extended battery cases to my phone can’t I use that to hide the fact that it’s not actually a battery?

  • h_f_m

    so i suppose just need to add “charge my phone to 100%” to the already extensive list of stuff I need to remember to fly..

  • Prime7

    No more traveling with the GNex, then.

    • TopXKiller


    • El Big CHRIS

      thanks this made me chuckle a bit 😛

  • FortitudineVincimus

    Is it me, or does it seem nutty to even show up at the airport, for international flights or not, with electronics that are battery dead? I mean, who shows up to the airport with a dead phone or tablet? You know you are about to travel, especially internationally, and know charging can be far and few inbetween when traveling, who does not come charged up or at least, have some charge? But showing up with your electronics totally battery dead?

    I say fine to this, it’s on you for being a tard and showing up not charged.

    • Dusty

      What you said makes sense but my concern is if you are coming back into the U.S. after your travel. e.g. You are flying in from U.K. and you used your laptop (which i believe average battery life is 6-7 hrs now? and say flight is 10hours) on the flight so the battery is dead. What now? Now i have to use my laptop to say 25% or something and hope it still has power when i land? Or should i not use my electronics at all if it isn’t fully charged and manage my usage on the flight? There are enough things to check off when flying already, i feel like this is unnecessary or could be better implemented.

  • Edwin M

    Is it me or does the headline not read well? I took it to mean that electronics that can’t turn on like broken items, not powered down items.

  • bboyairwreck

    Crap… But it’s been 47 hours since I’ve charged my Droid Maxx. Well this sux. (Jokes on me – KitKat killed the Maxx’s battery life -_-)

    • duke69111

      Same for the Verizon G2. I went back to Jelly Bean stock rooted 4.2.2 last week with the same setup app wise as I was running on Kit Kat and my battery life was back to the way it was before i upgraded to Kit Kat. It really is ashame the upgrade vary’s that much. I lose 24 hours of standby time by using kit kat.

      • TopXKiller

        Mine is a little worse but nothing like u describe, I could revert back to Jelly Bean but too much work

      • Bald_Sasquach

        AT&T G2 checking in, Kit Kat made my standby go from 30ish hours to 14 hours. I can hardly get more than 4 hours screen time either.

  • Droid Ronin

    For us with the Moto X, just take it right out of our pockets and the Active Display will let them know it’s powered on.

    • TROLL

      because its sooooo inconvenient to push the power button =)

  • Tony Byatt

    Not really an issue…

    Just have your devices charged and ready to go as you already should. Check bags with non-working devices…

  • gg_money

    I herd people with iPhones are allowed to pass even if they are dead because their batteries suck and are always low on power.

    • dsass600

      Just stop…

  • Jason Spangler

    Just came back from Russia through Amsterdam to the US. I had to power up my iPad (for work only), and my Android phone. They did not require me to power up my laptop though.

    • lobo

      I wonder they didn’t power up the laptop. Sounds inconsistent and undermines the whole powering up all electronics thing.

      • Suicide_Note

        Inconsistency with regards to government regulations and protocol? Why, I’ve never heard of such a thing.


  • lobo

    So I guess the NSA spying caught wind of plans to smuggle bombs into US bound planes inside gutted electronics?

    • Ian

      If a terrorist org really wanted to spread fear they would create chatter around plans to smuggle butt-bombs that way everyone that wants to fly to the US of A gets a complementary colonoscopy or prostate exam 🙂

      • eee

        A snuke! If only we knew someone who could shrink themselves to disarm it…

  • Brian

    But my tablet battery died while reading all the TSA regulations…

    • TinFoilHats

      They will provide outlets for you to plug in your device to power on.

      All that is needed is for you to be able to prove your device can power on to allow your device on the flight, that is all

  • Michael J. Hessmiller

    Smart. I won’t put it pass the terrorists to use this route. Don’t have a problem with this at all.

    • eee

      What terrorists? The boogyman they use to control you?

      • Michael J. Hessmiller

        ??? Not sure what you mean.

        • eee

          What terrorists have the TSA caught? Only news anyone can find are the ones that got through the TSA and were stopped by passengers/air marshals.

          It was never about security, but about the illusion of security, to control you. Because first it was taking off your shoes, then it was full body nude scanners, and now it is cellphone restrictions. How much longer before Civil Protection tell you to ‘pick up that can’?

          Perhaps it is already here…

          Room 101 is CNN.

          The memory hole has just been enforced in the EU forcing Google to delete “inconvenient or embarrassing documents, photographs, transcripts, or other records, such as from a web site or other archive, particularly as part of an attempt to give the impression that something never happened”.

          Telescreens are our computing devices tracked by the NSA.

          Oh well, Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite.

    • Tyler Bowden

      The TSA hasn’t stopped anything. It’s all just security theatre. If anything they just made a new bottleneck at the front of an airport to attack.

  • sysmo

    It seems like there should be better ways to prove an electronic device isn’t a bomb, rather than just powering it up…

    • lobo

      There probably are and probably being done. This is a simple additional test though.

      • Ian

        Why couldn’t something function as an intended device and include a bomb? Thus making this test irrelevant…

        • sirmeili

          My guess is that a smaller device like a phone or tablet has very little unused space in them (normally taken up by battery), so if it turns on, it should be pretty good to go.

          I’m not saying this is a good general rule or not, but I see their reasoning (flawed or otherwise).

          • Ian

            Sure sure. Slap an “extended battery” case on that bad boy filled with C4 as opposed to battery and you’re good to go though right?

          • sirmeili

            As I said…..I see their reasoning, flawed or otherwise 😉

        • lobo

          Probably similar reasons why they test/ban liquids when bombs or other harmful things aren’t always liquid. Similarly, having dogs and pigs smell for dangerous odors can fail when someone is smuggling something that’s odorless (at least to dogs and pigs). Most (all?) tests and rules rely on the process of elimination. No one test/rule can prevent all dangers.

    • velocipedes

      Guilty until proven innocent? The burden of proof should be on them.

      • sirmeili

        So are you OK with them ripping your device apart? They are a business and have the right to refuse service to anyone they choose. Technically I could make the same rules for eating at my restaurant. As long as I am not wholly refusing access to a protected class, I should be good to go.

        • Ian

          TSA is not a business, they are a gov’t agency. Their job is to serve the people via maintaining the safety of air travel and I am not assured they are accomplishing such a task with rules like this.

          • sirmeili

            Yeah, I realize that, but I really don’t see it being a huge deal. They aren’t refusing you any rights by denying you passage. I could see how that is a “slippery slope though”.

          • velocipedes

            They are absolutely violating your rights by refusing you, a paying customer, travel on the airline which you have contracted to fly with.

          • sirmeili

            No, they really aren’t. You even said it: You have “contracted” to fly with. Meaning they have terms and conditions to you flying them. One of them is complying with the TSA. If you refuse to get rid of your device that won’t power on in order to fly. You are breaching that contract and they can refuse you, a paying customer, passage on the flight.

          • velocipedes

            You have contracted to fly with the airline insofar as you have paid for a seat on the flight. The TSA’s rules are NOT part of the contract for the airline to carry you. They are separate, arbitrary rules enforced by an involuntary agency.

            If the airline wants to restrict what type of devices its passengers may bring on their planes, that is their right, and they may certainly do that. The TSA has no legitimate hand in that decision.

          • sirmeili

            Wrong again. The Airlines must follow TSA regulations. So, by entering into the contract with the Airlines, you agree to also follow the TSA guidelines. Even if the Airlines do not agree with it, they do not stop it, therefore giving precedence that the TSA in fact can do it.

            By allowing the TSA itself to regulate what devices can be brought on the airplane, the airlines themselves have restricted those devices on their planes in certain situations.

          • velocipedes

            You still don’t understand the voluntary nature of contracts, so I’m not sure further discussion will be productive.

            The airlines do not “allow” the TSA to regulate what devices are allowed on planes. The TSA is a coercive government agency. They are the ones doing the “allowing.”

        • sirmeili

          I should note that I realize that the TSA is not really a “business”, but in this case, I would almost treat it as so. It is not a “right” that you can fly on these airlines.

          I guess my point would be if anyone would be as upset if it was the airlines themselves making these rules?

          • Dan

            No, i wouldn’t be upset if a single airline implemented these rules because at least they would have the freedom to decide for them self. I would respect their decision, and would gracefully decline flying with them, and would choose to fly on a different airline. Freedom to choose.

          • sirmeili

            I could agree with that. However, if we left it to the “airlines” and one decided that they wouldn’t stop anyone, how ‘safe’ would that make us” (not that the TSA makes us all that safe)

          • Dan

            How safe are you on the road where anyone can get in a 2 ton car? Life is a risk and government regulation does not necesarilly make us any more safe. All it does is force the crazy people to be more creative.

          • sirmeili

            1) This doesn’t currently affect domestic flights. It is only International flights into the US, and even then, only a subset of those (According to the article). One might argue that after 9/11, it would be MORE prudent for them to include domestic flights, but they aren’t

            2) I never said that allowing anyone to get into a car made me safe. What I did say is that the TSA gets a ton of crap for doing their job, but as soon as something happens, they’ll get a ton of crap for not doing enough. I see their predicament, even if it what they are doing is only a perception of ‘safety’.

          • velocipedes

            It is absolutely a right that you can fly on an airline. If you paid for the ticket, you have a right to fly. It is certainly not a “privilege” bestowed by government that people are free to travel by air.

            If it was the airlines themselves responsible for security on their own flights, the process would be much more economical and respectful of passengers. It would also be entirely voluntary in the actual sense. But offloading the cost of security to the government is cheaper, so they don’t put up a fight.

          • sirmeili

            Just because you paid for something doesn’t give you the “right” to do it. You can pay for a ticket to a football game and start a fight going into the stadium or have a gun on your person and they WILL deny you entrance regardless of whether you paid for the ticket. You seem very entitled to think that just because you pay for something you inherently have the right to it, even though there are rules in place that you must follow. A contract of sorts. You should know that you can only fly if you follow the rules. It is up to you to find out those rules and make sure you abide by them. It is their responsibility to make sure you can find that information easily. Are the rules stupid? Perhaps, but those are the rules as it stands today and no amount of complaining will change that fact today. Call your representatives, or better yet write them a hand written letter (not typed), and try and change it.

            That being said. The rule above does NOT stop you from flying. It stops you from bringing devices that won’t power on on the flight. At that point it is YOUR choice to either discard the item and fly or not fly. Even then, it is only for very specific international flights into the US. It’s not like this is happening on all domestic flights.

          • velocipedes

            Just because you paid for something doesn’t give you the “right” to do it.

            Precisely the converse. If you have paid for a thing, then you have a right to it. You have exchanged your property in a legitimate transaction, which is also your right. You are most certainly entitled to the product of your transaction, in the actual sense of owning the title to that property.

            Contracts are voluntary agreements. There is NO voluntary agreement between you and the TSA. They have NO power of contract over you. Their arbitrary rules are only valid insofar as they can enforce them with guns. They have no legitimate standing.

            The TSA has NO LEGITIMATE power to restrict a person’s freedom to bring a device on an airline. That right rests with the airline itself, as the owner of the plane making the flight, to determine what can and cannot be allowed on the plane.

          • sirmeili

            I’m sorry that you don’t agree. It is also of note that the TSA in this case has NOT stopped you from flying. They HAVE stopped you from bringing a device that they feel may represent a threat to the plane and other passengers. YOU decide to not fly if you refuse to discard or otherwise not carry said device on the plane.

            As to the contract, the airlines have allowed the TSA to handle, at least in part, security. By doing so, any and all actions by the TSA are part of your contract with the airlines. I would agree with you if the TSA tried to place restrictions on flights neither originating or ending in the US, but the US Gov’t basically says “if you want to fly in our air space, you MUST follow these rules”. The US DOES have that right to place that restriction on the airlines, just like the US has the right to restrict flight over certain areas.

            The US Government has given the TSA LEGITIMATE power to do this. That is like saying “the FBI has NO LEGIMATE power to stop me from doing X”. The US Government has given them that power. If you don’t like that, then find ways in order to change that via the democratic process (voting, protesting, contacting representatives, etc). As it sits now though, they have that power and there is little you can do about that today. I understand if you FEEL that the TSA shouldn’t have these rights, but they do, and they have been granted those powers by those US Government.

          • velocipedes

            This isn’t a matter of opinion. It’s a matter of the definition of terms. You don’t simply have a different opinion on the meaning of terms. You have entirely different ideas on how rights, contracts, and coercion relate to each other.

            Again, the airlines have no say in “allowing” the TSA to handle security. The airlines are completely at the mercy of the TSA. It is a coercive government agency that answers only to the government.

            And no, the US federal government DOES NOT have the legitimate POWER (governments don’t have rights) to place restrictions on airlines and air travel by passengers. None of their assumed powers regarding air travel are Constitutionally original. Just because the federal government has assumed the power, and then handed it to the TSA, does NOT mean the use of that power is legitimate. The exercise of a power not legitimately held is criminal action. And the US federal government does NOT have the legitimacy to exercise its claimed powers. And it cannot simply claim whatever power it wants. It’s powers are narrowly and strictly defined, and also narrowly restricted, in particular by the 4th Amendment which criminalizes general searches by the federal government. The TSA’s entire directive directly falls in that category of general searches. The government has the burden of proof in convicting you of any offense. Any agency that presumes you guilty until proven innocent, such as the TSA, is acting criminally.

        • Dan

          haha…the TSA is not a business. The airlines (business) do not make up the rules. Get rid of the TSA and let the airlines manage and monitor their own security/safety procedures as you stated above.

          Could you imagine the government scanning people before they come into your restaurant to ensure they are not tracking in anything “dangerous”? Your restaurant example is not relevant to the TSA.

          • Yeah, leave it to the airlines…nothing could go wrong….except….9/11

          • Dan

            because TSA did a great job stopping 9/11? You can’t stop crazy. There will always be people that do bad things and increased regulation does not stop them. Who stopped the shoe bomber, was it the TSA or concerned citizens?

          • coolsilver

            TSA was implemented after 9/11

          • Dan

            i meant gov’t not TSA, The Gov’t was still regulating air travel and safety prior to 9/11.

          • Willie D

            The government is still regulating air travel and safety of air travel… What are you saying?

          • velocipedes

            Locked cabin doors… a most simple remedy that would have saved thousands of lives, and hundreds of billions of dollars.

            Everything else done as a response to 9/11 is a total power play, and nothing to do with resolving the problems that lead to 9/11.

          • sirmeili

            Yeah, I was thinking of it more on the airline level and thinking of the TSA as an extension of all airlines and not a Gov’t Agency (though I did realize that it was a Gov’t agency). It’s a funny thing. As soon as someone gets by, the TSA will likely be the first one to take the blame, but when they try and do their job (no matter how stupid we think the rules are), they get a bunch of crap as well.

          • Nate Bousfield

            The airlines used to manage security, and they hated it. 9/11 finally got them out of it, and most were happy to hand it off to the government.

        • Willie D

          Those who give away a little freedom for a little security are deserving of neither.

          • sirmeili

            So are you advocating that we give up all security for “pure freedom”?

          • antinorm

            I would rather live with the infinitesimal chance that some nutjob will try and do something on my flight (and not have the living crap beat out of them by everyone else onboard first), than live with the abomination that is the TSA.

    • Eli

      Ok, how many bomb cellphones they caught so far?

  • coolsilver

    Well if you are traveling internationally, with a connecting flight, you go through TSA checkpoint again. Airports with NO outlets for phone chargers and long flight of playing Angry Birds = Stranded, detained? Come on.

  • frankyblike

    I have no issue with this if it keeps us safe.

    • T4rd

      Same here. I do have an issue with your duck face though. =p

      • frankyblike


    • TheOgler

      But what if it actually makes us less safe?

      (That’s the case, by the way.)

      • sirmeili

        Just out of curiosity, but how does it make us less safe? (I am seriously curious and not trolling)

        • TheOgler

          It’s not actually a direct reason, but the basic idea is that after figuring the economics of it, the expenditure cripples the economy in order to stop something that statistically is very, very unlikely to happen. I don’t remember if links are allowed here, so just Google “tsa makes us less safe.” There are Business Week and Vanity Fair articles discussing it.

    • Ian

      if we lock you in a padded room it will keep you safe as well.

    • rawr

      I believe Ben Franklin discussed people like you a long time ago.

  • MichaelFranz

    Probably a machine on all US bound flights will hack every device and check for terrorist information. Imagine that…

  • Bryan Mills

    No big deal. Keep it charged and you won’t have a problem.

    • Tyler Bowden

      And if my battery dies I should just simply through my $500+ phone away!

      • KevinL

        Either that or your $500 airline ticket, lol

    • Dan

      I can’t tell you how many times I’ve traveled for business and have been using my laptop all day for presentations. Then a meeting with a client goes long, and I have to rush to the airport to catch my flight. Somewhere between the meeting with the client and standing in security lines for 30+ minutes my laptop battery dies. I am sorry, but “keeping it charged” is not always realistic for a business traveler. I understand your logic for someone traveling for leisure, but you cannot expect everyone to have time to stop and charge their laptop prior to going through security.

  • Ray

    Sounds dumb but I wouldn’t expect anything less from TSA

  • Suicide_Note

    Oh, joy. More senseless restrictions by the TSA.

    • Miguel

      It might be senseless to you but I understand their point, why would you carry a device that does not power on?

      • Menger40

        Battery ran out on the car ride to the airport?

        • Bryan Mills

          lol yeah. That means you should get rid of the GNEX

          • MasterEthan

            Yes I should… Maybe I need to go G2 or G3 route.

          • Menger40

            Gnex users will have to swap in a fresh 3800mah battery to last through a security check

          • h_f_m

            Yes… of course the fault lies on the user for choosing a phone that can only last 8 hours on battery instead of 13

        • MasterEthan

          I hear that! Or in connecting flights that require you to go through TSA again. I once had to throw out some drinks because I went through security, bot drinks for the trip home, got on flight, got off flight for connection, then lovely security again.. threw drinks out…

      • jamaall

        My only explanation would be that they could be hiding an explosive, and if the device doesn’t power up, it could be a fake phone with an explosive.,

        • Ian

          Or a working phone with an explosive….

        • MarionH

          Which is why I don’t get what those TSA “agents” are doing sitting behind the x-ray machines…obviously a fake phone filled with explosives is going to look different from a regular working phone! Can’t be that hard to detect on x-ray.

      • velocipedes

        They don’t have a point. Just bureaucratic nonsense. Sociopaths run that organization.

    • jabarri2

      lol didnt they JUST find a knife in someones shoe yesterday?

  • Chris B

    …Reason being. . . ?

    • Carlton Crasher

      maybe i’m silly but possibly so they don’t think its a dummy device encasing a bomb or something idk…still sounds like silliness.

      • Allen Yates

        Pretty sure they could pick that up on a scanner, right?

        • Lee

          I doubt it. Have you ever seen the geniuses working TSA?

        • Dan

          maybe. I was traveling overseas and was carrying on a small inflatable mattress and rechargeable air pump so that i could sleep on the floor at a friends house. TSA scanned the pump, and then confiscated it because they said the scanner could not see all the way through the rechargeable battery. I guess most batteries for devices you can see through on the scanner. I was really pissed because they would not let it through, even though there were no regulations against carrying on such devices. It was not a liquid, a knife or dangerous in anyway. I guess most electronic batteries are thinner and easier to “see through” on the scanner. Not sure why that is not sufficient enough.

    • citizen 17

      al qaeda in yemen has tried to bomb planes with plastic-like explosive contained inside electronics (like the battery compartment). One plot was inside a printer cartridge, it made it into the airport and almost onto the plane before they detected it. It is feasible to gut and fill the inside of a tablet or phone with explosives and easily get past security with it.

      my guess is they have new intelligence of this type of plot happening again.

      • j

        Good thing no one could ever conceive a device that can explode but still turn on.. TSA keepin us safe.

        • Dan

          ….or mix 3 3oz bottles to make a 9oz concoction.