back to article USA to screen tablets,
e-readers and handheld games before they fly

Domestic air passengers within the USA will be required to remove any electronic device larger than a smartphone from their carry-on bags for screening before boarding. A Transport Security Agency (TSA) announcement names “tablets, e-readers and handheld game consoles” as the target of the new rules, which “require travelers …

  1. cirby

    They're gonna love me...

    Just got back from a trip - four tablets, two laptops, a handful of portable hard drives, and a few other gadgets.

    (Yes, they were needed - work hardware I wasn't going to leave in checked baggage)

    1. OldCrow

      Re: They're gonna love me...

      Try a network switch, a fiber-to-copper converter and power supplies for both, all zip-tied and taped together into a single lump with cables sticking all over. I had to carry that through the airport security in Amsterdam.

      Was afraid of it needing a good explanation sooner than later, so put it in the carry-on bag. They looked at it once, asked if I was MacGyver, and would have waved me right through if the swab-test hadn't given a positive for something. Re-test was negative, though, so passed right after showing a card with the word "engineer" on it.

      Thing is, Amsterdam had the "all electronics separately" rule in place already. But the security actually had the training and/or brains to see that the clump had nothing capable of exploding. In the U.S., I doubt I would have flown on the same day.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing to see here...

    Removing kindles and tablets from hand luggage has been routine in European airports for years. Surprised it's just getting starting in the United Police States of America.

    1. Oengus Silver badge

      Re: Nothing to see here...

      I thought this was standard practice. I have had to do this in Domestic and International travel in Oz, NZ, India and the Philippines for a number of years. Usually they want the devices (apart from mobile phones) in their own tray so I end up with a string of plastic trays with 2-3 laptops, 2+ tablets and 2-3 mobile phones plus of course the backpack for the computers and the carry on bag with the camera, battery packs etc. In some countries you even have to take off your shoes (and coat) and send them through the X-ray. Of course you then have to repack everything when you get through the security checkpoint...

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Nothing to see here...

        I was really surprised that I didnt have to put my tablet in a separate tray when i flew from manchester to spain earlier this month. I did last year.

  3. LDS Silver badge

    It will also apply to cameras, lenses and probably some of their accessories too...

    ... but you can pay $17/yr and avoid it, using the 'precheck' lanes instead of the standard ones.

    TSA is going the route of 'maximizing shareholder value' too...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It will also apply to cameras, lenses and probably some of their accessories too...

      One TSA jerk wanted me to take apart my £6000 Nikon 200-400mm F4 lens back in 2015.

      After resisting the urge to use the thing as a club and batter some sense into him, I got his superior involved.

      "If you can see through it and use the controls then it is fine,"

      He checked and waved me through. How long before they mandate to see inside lenses etc?

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: It will also apply to cameras, lenses and probably some of their accessories too...

        While in the EU the need to remove PCs from bags has been an old one, other items were often at the discretion of the controller. I had my photo gear thoroughly checked at Charles de Gaulle once - probably they could not believe I was traveling with a film camera... (and I was quite worried about how the lenses were being handled...) another time in Wien when I had to remove the battery, the lens, put them in again and operate the camera. I wonder what could happen next when I travel with a view camera....

        If these rules become widespread, I hope it's enough to put the backpack with the lid open in the scanner, while checking nobody around is going to make drop, or worse, steal, a lens which may easily cost some thousands...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Land of the Free (*)

    * = Terms and Conditions apply.

    1. Samoa Tech

      Re: Land of the Free (*)

      Spot on AN... Polyticks abound all over.

  5. Haku

    They wouldn't like my old beat-up tablet.

    There's a suspicious looking wire sticking out the side with a JST connector.

    I had to modify the tablet to charge its battery directly with a small USB lipo charging module because it won't charge through the USB port anymore.

  6. eldakka Silver badge

    They are thinking outside the box

    These new rules suggest bad actors may be thinking outside the box, so to speak, to contemplate sparking something nasty with a Kindle or a Game Boy.

    All they have to do is drop hints to the security agencies about how they might attack, then sit back and watch the TSA and other security agencies actually do all the work in making frightened, annoyed passengers.

    Easy peesy, no fuss, no mess, no work by the terrorists, just let the TSA do it all.

    1. Vic

      Re: They are thinking outside the box

      Easy peesy, no fuss, no mess, no work by the terrorists, just let the TSA do it all.

      Yes. This is what terror *is*.

      Terrorism isn't about blowing up aircraft, it's about causing the State to become so oppressive that the country tears itself apart. States seem to like becoming oppressive, so it's a pretty easy gig, really...

      Vic.

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Actually the TSA found about 60 handguns on planes last year.

    Needless to say they were all brought on board by US citizens to internal flights.

    But this BS sounds like another effort to make a government more repressive.

    "Insisting on perfect safety is for people who don't have the balls to live in the real world" as Mary Shaefer put it.

    1. LDS Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Actually the TSA found about 60 handguns on planes last year.

      That's because there's no rule about removing your gun from the bag and put in the tray, after removing the loaded bullet... after all, does the second amendment say anywhere that planes are to be treated differently?

    2. Samoa Tech

      Re: Actually the TSA found about 60 handguns on planes last year.

      Called working for the Govmint; your tax dollars at play (cushy #)

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Actually the TSA found about 60 handguns on planes last year.

        Did they find the gun then wave the person through?

  8. lglethal Silver badge
    Trollface

    And go...

    Since this sort of scanning has been standard practice for at least 5 years in Europe, can we have a ban on all American flights coming to Europe until they get their security up to the required level?

  9. Tim Seventh
    Joke

    Remove any electronic device larger than a smartphone

    Grandpa, why are you laying on the X-ray screening lane? The device in your heart isn't that big... right?

    1. LDS Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Remove any electronic device larger than a smartphone

      Well, given the health care situation in the US, I guess for many people the only way to have a cheap X-ray screening is exactly that...

  10. David Roberts Silver badge
    WTF?

    The surprise message is

    That they don't routinely scan carry on luggage.

    O.K. you don't generally get scanned before getting the bus or train but neither of those is likely to fall out of the sky.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: The surprise message is

      The TSA already want all Amtrak passengers to go through a full Airport style screening before getting onto a train. Long distance busses will be next I'm sure.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Joke

        "The TSA already want all Amtrak passengers to go through a full Airport style screening "

        Well obviously.

        How is the D going to meet his "Getting America back to work"pledge?

        Always puts me in mind of the last time I transitted through Newark Airport a few years ago and the two ladies on the incoming line.

        I can't hear "It's raining men" without thinking of them.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SFO

    Perhaps they need to update the security people at SFO ... flew back to from there last week via Amsterdam and at the hand luggage check scanners there was no provision to remove anything from bags to be scanned seperately - all there was was a female TSA employee screaming at everyone to push their bags into the scanner as fast as possible. Also, they seemed to have dispensed with the "we need to scan your shoes" rule and none of the hi-tech "naked body scanners" that were going to be the solution for everything were in use.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: SFO

      As any true red-blooded American will tell you, California isn't a part of the Real America.

      1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: SFO

        Native born Californios, such as myself, have known that for ages. Excuse me while we secede from "The Union."

  12. Not also known as SC

    Pre-registration?

    So if you pre-register you avoid the additional screening. Surely then all the terrorist with the bomb in their e-reader needs to do is pre-register?

    1. ChrisC

      Re: Pre-registration?

      Well yes, but don't forget that at the bottom of the registration form will be the question "Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of a terrorist organisation", so that'll stop the bad guys in their tracks right there. Won't it?

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Pre-registration?

        "Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of a terrorist organisation", so that'll stop the bad guys in their tracks right there. Won't it?

        Sure. Just like it stopped all those old IRA guys flying to Noo Yawk for St Patrick's Day.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: Pre-registration?

          Does america acutally recognise the IRA as a terrorist organisation though?

          1. Kernel

            Re: Pre-registration?

            "Does america acutally recognise the IRA as a terrorist organisation though?"

            I have a vague memory of being taught at school many years ago that the IRA was primarily a political organization that grew out of Sein Fein, not a terrorist group - the Provisional Wing of the IRA (Provos) on the other hand was an entirely different bag of ferrets.

  13. Reg T.

    An interesting sociological phenomenon.

    Not many complaints registered about the fisting that TSA routinely carries out on the US cattle. But don't touch my electronic dodads! Gonads, yes. Dodads, no.

  14. Alistair Silver badge
    Flame

    Theatrical theater.

    I cannot get past the idea that GWB et all let the terrorists win in 2001. And its been running downhill ever since. I admit that electronic devices could be used to hide nasty nasty things, but we have yet to see some entity pull this one off at all, except perhaps Samsung. We're still stuck with the 150ml limit (unless its pesto and you're in Italy apparently), we still have this stupidity about shoes, and I'm surprised we don't have to show off our underwear yet.

    But stupid folks still wander on to aircraft with loaded handguns, with one up the spout. I'm sure there have been dozens of cases of people with box cutters and nail files. What I do not understand, what completely escapes my comprehension is how it is that some 16 years later, after all this posturing, all this 'every little threat' kneejerk reaction tactic the entirety of the western world has not finally looked the idiot in the room in the eye and said enough of the bullshit. Provide your "Credible Threat" details or get the fuck out.

    1. Chris 239

      Re: Theatrical theater.

      "Provide your "Credible Threat" details or get the fuck out." hear hear! - like the poster above said the sercurity people are doing the terrerists work for them.

      But I work for a security x-ray scanner maker so please keep buying x-ray scanners!

      1. Samoa Tech

        Re: Theatrical theater.

        Send me 10 then a mix of biglies an smallies. Address Chump Tower NYC. I promise, promise to pay you...Your friend DC (pun intended)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Theatrical theater.

      "I'm sure there have been dozens of cases of people with box cutters and nail files."

      indeed. I can buy Swiss army knives between $1 (the tiny ones) and $20 (the very complex ones) at the State of Texas Surplus Store in Austin, that were taken away from passengers in airports. And box cutters for $0.10, etc.

  15. Permidion

    they have been doing that in Switzerland airport security check for years,

    im more annoyed by having to remove my belt or shoes because their security portal ring for freaking no reasons ....

    and im not even talking about drink bottles !@%!&

  16. batfink
    Mushroom

    So, they're introducing what's been happening for years then

    Welcome to the rest of the world, USA'ers....

  17. Phukov Andigh Bronze badge

    I apologize in advance..

    for the delay I'm gonna be causing at SFO in a couple months. I'll be carrying ALL THE ELECTRONICS muahahaha. Well everything but the cell phones for the whole family. I'm already prepared for the strip search bwahahaha

  18. Stork Bronze badge

    Good old days

    My parent were visiting a friend who was at Gran Canaria with his boat. They brought him a new generator and a tin of paint, in hand luggage. According to my dad, it cost all of 5 seconds delay as the guy studied his screen a bit more carefully

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    soldering - no no

    Got pulled over once because on magnetic buttons on my shirt.

    That prompted them to check my hands with the chemical detector.

    It gave a positive - going to a conference, I had to do a last minute fix to our demo hardware right before heading for the airport. Two strikes.

    Then they started messing with said demo hardware - that had already "passed" the x-ray, but by now she and I were "interesting". Lots of wires, etc. weird stuff. Got to have a behind the doors full undress check. Got through, but learned my lesson. I always get a second look to my carry on, because weird electronics, but this time it went way beyond.

    1. Samoa Tech

      Re: soldering - no no

      Yes they are "stupid" here as well reiterate "unemployable out side the box". I have had female travellers arriving here America Samoa and these knuckle heads will even go through their used underwear. WTF.

      They will never return. Ok got my Govmint paycheck; TSA application form no brain required and snooping on people over cell phones and anything with a camera connected to the net for their own pleasure and use.

  20. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Now imagine carrying a small rocket engine on in hand luggage.

    Dough Jones (formerly of XCOR) did this one time.

    He explained it was a)A piece of engineering equipment and b) As you can see it's not connected to anything.

    It's best not to use the word "rocket" around a US airport, as it can result in lots of young men running round with automatic weapons. And that's how accidents can happen.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: Now imagine carrying a small rocket engine on in hand luggage.

      Accident implies noone is to blame.

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