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International air travelers heading to the U.S. now face another potential headache in security lines: they may not be able to board their plane unless they are able to turn on their phones, laptops and other electronic devices.
According to a new order announced on Sunday by the Department of Homeland Security:
“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.”
The new order, which did not specify which particular airports will be subject to the decree, comes after earlier expressions of concern by U.S. concern that devices might be used as a shell to contain a bomb.
According to a security expert cited by the Wall Street Journal, the Transportation Security Administration issued a warning over such a plot in 2012 and has already been asking passengers to power up devices, but the new directive will serve to increase such procedures. The TSA did not state if U.S. agents will conduct more extensive searches of the devices themselves.
The new measures may add to already-arduous wait times at the airport, though the security expert cited by the Journal suggested that airlines may rush to provide chargers to passengers who are waiting to board.
While the TSA doesn’t have direct jurisdiction over foreign airports, the U.S. requires airlines and airports to take certain measures if they wish to provide non-stop service to American cities.