It is reported in the Guardian newspaper that Airline passengers entering and leaving the UK on potentially any routes, including transatlantic ones and those connecting with mainland Europe, will be expected to be show that electronic devices in their hand luggage can be powered up, British authorities announced Tuesday 8th July in a tightening of aviation security.
In response to warnings of a “credible threat”, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced on Sunday that passengers using airports with direct flights to the US could be made to switch on their mobile phones and other electronic devices to prove to security officials that the devices do not contain explosives.
Britain’s transport department said last week that extra security measures at UK airports were not expected to cause “significant disruption” to passengers, but on Tuesday it announced that passengers on some routes to and from the UK might now be required to show electronic devices in hand luggage could be powered up. The move was being taken “in line with US advice”, the department said.
While the department refused to discuss what routes could be affected, it is understood that the new security criteria would extend to all flights between Britain and other European destinations.
Travellers unable to demonstrate that devices such as laptops and phones can be powered up face not being allowed to bring the devices on to aircraft.
Security experts have told CNN: the changes were based on new intelligence on terror groups trying to build new types of improvised explosives that are harder to detect. ”While there was no specific threat prompting the enhancements, U.S. officials are concerned about the possibility that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula might develop bombs which could pass through current security measures undetected.”
The news comes after a recent report that Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxy devices in particular would face additional attention. The report by Reuters noted that the scrutiny would apply to passengers flying to the U.S., but the TSA does not mention these brands in its official statement.
Cell phone explosives are nothing new, one of the most well known cases of a cell phone bomb was the Jan. 5, 1996 killing of Palestinian suicide bomb mastermind Yahya Ayyash. Ayyash was killed after answering a cell phone packed with explosives. These new TSA screening procedures though, suggest that officials are concerned that terrorists may have found a way to pack electronics devices with explosives in a way that avoids detection.