It had been quiet for a while around the subject of airport security. This wasn’t to last. On the 2nd July 2014, new airport security restrictions were introduced from UK airports.
The US is concerned that events in Syria and Yemen could have an impact on security with new bombs being developed. They believe that there is a credible terrorist threat and that new security measures must be introduced. As a result, notifications were issued relating to increased security on US flights.
The new restrictions
Originally it was indicated that the new restrictions would include a more thorough screening of passengers such as the checking of shoes. However, this message has been somewhat eclipsed by the announcement of increased checks on electronic devices.
All electronic devices including mobile phones, laptops, electric shavers, cameras and tablets must potentially be switched on at airport security. Failure to comply could lead to confiscation of the item and in some cases warnings have been issued that flights could be missed completely.
Aside from delays, queues and inconvenience, be alerted to what can happen if your battery needs charging. The Department of Transport warns that if your device is not operational then you may have to leave it behind.
How it affects flights to Spain
Although those flying to Spain should feel reassured that the new restrictions are focused upon flights to the US, it is still likely that there will be repercussions for all those making international flights, whatever their destination.
The DfT have issued the information that passengers on other routes in and out of the UK may also be required to show that their electronic devices in their hand luggage are operational. As other routes might be affected all travellers should expect the new restrictions to apply.
As a minimum, airports are likely to struggle to accommodate the increased number of summer flights and the increased security arrangements without significant delays. Information from people flying recently suggests that the devices of people flying to Spain are not being checked. However, it is always wise to be prepared!
Advice for travellers
It is beneficial if you are approaching the scanners and security checks to switch on your laptops, tablets, mobile phones and cameras – but don’t forget to switch them off again before boarding your flight! .
Of course, it is also advisable to allow plenty of extra time at the airport. Those flying recently have indicated delays and longer queues that you should be prepared for to avoid panic setting in.
Advice is also being issued that devices in the hold should be capable of being switched on too. Although what exactly happens to these appears to be unclear. So, charge everything and avoid using devices until you are safely onboard.
At this stage we are not aware of Spanish airports imposing the same restrictions on your return journey. However, you would be wise to make sure you have your charger with you, just in case.
Peak holiday season
It is particularly unfortunate that this new decision has been taken at the very busiest period for our airports. However, the increased restrictions won’t apply to those airports who only cater for short-haul flights as the transport department did announce that it would only be airports with direct flights to the US that would be affected.
There is a lot of concern around the new airport regulations. Many people feel unclear about just how necessary the new security is – particularly if it is applied to European flights as well as those to the states. Let's hope it doesn't inconvenience lots of people looking forward to their annual two week break.