July 2014: New Airport Security Rules For Electronic Devices

a guy scrolling through his phone while walking around the airport

2.91min read

Published 15 July 2014


These days, nearly everyone travels with electronic devices like mobile phones, tablets, e-book readers, laptops, digital cameras and portable music players. New aviation security measures have been announced this month, July 2014, regarding travelling with these devices in your carry-on baggage. These new rules currently relate to flights to, from or via the United Kingdom or United States of America.

 a guy scrolling through his phone while walking around the airport
Be aware of the new rules regarding your smartphone at airports

Next time you pass through airport security, you could be asked to turn on any electronic or battery-powered device to prove its functionality. If your device doesn't turn on, you risk having the item confiscated or, worse still, you may not be allowed onto your flight. With this in mind, it's more important than ever to make sure your electronic devices are fully charged before you leave home and don't run your battery flat while in transit or onboard the aircraft. 

While at this stage only flights involving the US and UK are likely to be affected, it's important to be aware of these new rules regardless of where you are travelling. Keep your electronic devices in your carry-on baggage and ensure they have enough charge to be turned on if you are asked to do so. It's a good idea to keep your chargers and international power adaptors in your cabin baggage as well.

Why are these changes happening?

These security changes are being implemented as part of regular aviation safety reviews put forward by government agencies. Authorities are always looking for ways to ensure the public travel experiences are safe and enjoyable.

While these changes are currently for flights to, from or via the United States and the United Kingdom, authorities worldwide are assessing other destinations. At present, Australia's safety level remains unchanged.

What destinations will be affected?

Currently, flights to, from and via the United States and United Kingdom will be impacted by these heightened security measures, including stopovers through Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Specific routes have not been announced to maintain security, but any airline or destination may be subject to these new security restrictions.

Domestic flights within Australia are not affected at this stage, but there is the potential for these changes to be rolled out to a wider range of destinations, so every traveller should be aware of these new rules regardless of their airline or destination.

What airlines with be affected?

For Australian travellers, the main airlines that will be impacted by these new rules include Qantas, Virgin Australia, Emirates Airlines, Etihad Airways, British Airways, Delta, United Airlines and all other carriers that fly to, from and via the UK and US.

Keep these extra security procedures in mind when factoring in your travel time, as they may potentially lead to longer queues or delays, especially at major airports such as London Heathrow where these new rules will be focused.

What happens if my device has a flat battery?

If you cannot prove your device functions as normal, there is a strong chance you will not be allowed to fly, your item will be confiscated and/or you will undergo additional screening. Keep your chargers and power adaptors on hand to avoid this happening.

While most airports and airline lounges have power outlets to charge your devices, they can be limited. Don't rely on the ability to charge your device at the airport.

What about items in my checked baggage?

Another part of these new security measures is requiring travellers to take any items that use lithium batteries in their carry-on baggage. If you pack items such as laptops or cameras in your checked baggage, you may be called to security at the airport and asked to remove the device, turn it on to prove its validity, and keep it with you in the cabin once you have proved it works as normal.

What devices are impacted by these changes?

The new security rules relate to all electronic devices (especially those using lithium batteries, as well as mains-powered devices), including mobile phones, laptops, tablets, e-book readers, digital cameras and portable music players.

Will I still be able to use my device onboard?

Yes, you should be able to use your devices onboard the aircraft as you normally would. Remember to switch phones to 'flight mode' and follow the guidelines for use of electronic devices as explained by the cabin crew.

What happens if I've just bought a new device at Duty Free?

Most new electronic devices have enough pre-charge on them to be switched on straight away, so you should be able to prove their functionality. However, the item and its packaging may still require further examination at security checkpoints.

Are these changes permanent?

At this stage, it is uncertain whether these increased security restrictions will stay in place or if they will only exist temporarily.

 a guy scrolling through his phone
Don't run your batteries flat before you fly


  • Allow extra time to clear security checkpoints at airports
  • Keep your devices, chargers and adaptors in your carry-on baggage
  • Make sure your devices have enough charge, especially for long-haul journeys
  • Ensure you know how to operate your device if you are asked to turn it on
  • Travel smart and be prepared to present your devices when asked
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