Update 5:25 ET: Airline travelers en route to the United States will need to turn on their electronic devices before boarding, or else forsake those items, according to new security measures from the Transportation Security Administration. If passengers cannot power on their laptops, iPods, and smartphones, they will not be permitted to bring them on the plane.
It is unclear whether dead devices will be allowed in hold luggage, as different airlines conflict in their online instructions.
Delta Air Lines mentions that non-operable electronic gadgets would not be permitted for carry-on, but does not specify hold luggage. British Airways states that the device is not allowed on the plane at all.
The new rules apply only to international airports offering nonstop service to the United States, according to Reuters. Approximately 250 foreign airports offer direct flights.
The TSA has not specified the countries or airports subject to the new rule. It is also unknown how long the new policy would be in effect.
Europe’s two busiest hubs, Heathrow and Charles DeGaulle, will comply with the new rule, along with other airports in the United Kingdom, France and Germany, according to International Meeting Review, the BBC and France24.com.
News of the revised TSA regulations received some backlash. A former TSA agent criticized the latest rule due to its inflexible enforcement, proposing instead a case-by-case search.
“Nearly all of the security workforce, in all likelihood, will be mindlessly waving through passengers with powered-up electronics – because when you work front-line security with an inflexible checklist as your guide, you find it's easy to let critical thinking take a backseat to basic standard operating procedure compliance,” wrote Jason Harrington in The Guardian.
American Airlines will allow passengers with a dead battery "to mail the device to their home or other location, discard the device, or be rebooked on a later flight at no charge," the company wrote in an e-mail.
British Airways advises flyers to “ensure that items you bring with you are fully powered before you arrive at the airport,” a press release stated.
Virgin Atlantic tells customers that if “you are unable to turn your device on, you will not be able to travel with your device,” according to their website.
With many non-stop flights from abroad, American, Delta, and United airlines are especially affected by the new rules, ABC News reported.
Be sure to consult your airline – or charge your phone – before leaving.
Why is the TSA tightening security?
US intelligence is concerned that the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamist al Nusra Front, al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, are plotting to blow up an airliner.
As The Christian Science Monitor reported, "in the past, members of Al Qaeda have been caught attempting to smuggle explosives onto planes inside their underwear and shoes and in printer cartridges. The shells of electronic devices such as laptops could theoretically be used to disguise a bomb, explosives expert Roland Alford of UK-based Alford Technologies told David Gregory on “Meet the Press,” Sunday."