Thursday, 10 July 2014

New Security Checks at UK Airports

Security screening changes continue to cause confusion for UK travellers.  First eight days ago passengers booked on US bound flights were warned to make sure electronic items were fully charged before they boarded or they wouldn't be allowed to take them onboard.   The British Airways issued a travel advice that stated if the device did not turn on then on the flight you would not go.  

Yesterday, the UK's Department for Transport (DfT) says the rules apply to any flights into or out of the UK, although not every flight will be affected.  The rules apply to all portable electronic devices, including cameras, tablets, ebook readers, laptops, MP3 players and phones. Previously the warning had been about two makes of phone and laptops.

The DfT says that in the event a passenger arrives at an airport gate with a device that does not switch on, it will be at the discretion of the airline what happens next. Its potluck whether passengers will ever see their electronic gadgetry again,  some may have it posted to a home address,  others may be able to collect it up on their return, whilst others may have halt or alter travel plans completely.   

Virgin Atlantic said it will charge a passenger a courier fee in the event a device has to be sent on. However , if a passenger wants to change their flights to enable a charger to be located and the device to be charged, they will be allowed to change their flights free of charge.
British Airways are reporting that if a non-charged device is found, the device can be charged at the gate. The airline says it has, or will have, a range of chargers available. However when we spoke to a number of British Airway's staff at its home base of London Heathrow airport, they knew nothing of the availability of chargers at departure gates and expressed concern over the number of power outlets to plug the non-existence of chargers into at some gates.  Passengers would also be allowed to change flights in order to buy a charger, although again the staff we spoke to didn't know whether this would be free service or if normal ticket rules would apply. 
For most people flying out of UK airports, should be ok as they are more likely to have fully charged devices as they are at the start of their journey. Transfer and transiting passengers may feel the full impact of the new rules, with limited opportunity to charge items enroute. 
Not all passengers on all flights will be asked to turn on devices to prove they work, there will be a random selection in additional to all the US bound flights.

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