Charge your phone, or you can't fly with it

A man talks on a cell phone in the new American Airlines terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport

If you’re traveling abroad soon, make sure to have your electronic devices charged up on the way back to America. If you don’t, your smartphone, tablet, or laptop may not be able to come back with you.

The Transportation Security Administration is announcing new security measures at certain overseas airports with flights to the U.S.

Security screeners will ask flyers to turn their devices on. Those that don’t power up will not be allowed on the plane.

The move is meant to foil plots to use smartphones and tablets to disguise bombs, amid concerns Al Qaeda terrorists are planning to attack airlines. But the new screening procedures are bound to frustrate innocent travelers. They’ll be forced to abandon their cherished electronic devices if they’re unfortunate enough to have dead batteries.

Just like taking off our shoes and limiting the liquids we carry on, we’ve got yet another new security habit to form. The best way to make sure you don’t lose your devices abroad is to have all your chargers packed in carry-on luggage, including any adapters needed for foreign power outlets.

Still, one person’s security hassle is another’s business opportunity. The limiting of carry-on liquids created an expanded market for beverage sellers inside the security checkpoints. This new move may provide similar opportunity for clever entrepreneurs. Soon, before flyers can pass through airport security to buy overpriced bottles of water, they’ll likely see merchants with an array of overpriced chargers and adapters just outside the security gates.

About the author

Mark Garrison is a reporter for Marketplace and substitute host for the Marketplace Morning Report, based in New York.

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