Increased security at Tenerife`s Airports
HOLIDAYMAKERS coming to Tenerife will need to be patient this summer after new security checks were introduced to airports. A new terrorist threat has resulted in passengers being given spot-checks involving electrical equipment.
If your mobile phone, laptop, ipad, ebook or even your electric toothbrush appears “dead”, you will not be allowed to board your plane.
All flights are being targeted, with an extra emphasis on long haul flights to America. Airport authorities say Customs officers can swoop on passengers queuing for any flight, going anywhere in the world.
The extraordinary move comes after an apparent terror threat of an airliner being blown up, which prompted the US to announce extra security checks last week.
American security officials fear bomb-makers from the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) have worked out how to turn mobiles into explosive devices which can avoid detection.
And US authorities have already singled out Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxy handsets for extra security checks.
The security checks began at some UK airports promptly for flights to the US, and these have now been extended.
The British Government says checks will be carried out on flights to and from the UK, but has not specified which ones.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has now issued updated guidelines, saying:
“In line with the US advice, passengers on some routes into and out of the UK may now also be required to show that electronic devices in their hand luggage are charged up before they travel, or face not being allowed to bring the device on to the aircraft.”
The DfT said that “for obvious reasons”, it would not elaborate on the routes affected. “We will work with the aviation industry to minimise disruption as far as possible,” said a spokesman.
It will be possible to recharge electronic equipment at airports – there are 4,500 charging points at Heathrow alone.
But time is the key factor because if you are stopped with “dead” equipment as you go through Customs, there’s a good chance your flight will be taking off fairly soon.
That means you dump the gear, take a later flight (paying for the switch, obviously) or leave it with the airport’s officials for collection after your trip.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s official spokesman said the tightening of security measures at airports reflected “the fact that there are terror organisations that seek to do UK citizens, the UK and citizens of other countries harm”.
American officials last week ordered some overseas airports with direct flights to the US to intensify screening of electronic devices.
This prompted Heathrow and Manchester airports on Monday to advise US-bound passengers to make sure their electronic devices carried in hand luggage were charged before travelling.
British Airways said customers with uncharged devices would not be allowed to fly, and would have to rebook their flights – or else leave their device behind and board the flight without them.
These passengers, said a BA spokesperson, will either be able to collect the device on their return, or have it forwarded to an address, at the airline’s expense.
Virgin Atlantic said it would also store uncharged devices for customers at the airport.
But after initially saying the cost of returning devices rested with passengers, the airline later revised its decision and said passengers would not have to pay.
Meanwhile, easyJet said it was seeking clarification from the Government on the new regulations and had not, so far, issued any specific instructions to passengers.
Matt Bowdidge, who was flying home to Brisbane, Australia, had his gadgets and wires strewn across a table as he finished his coffee before heading for security.
“I don’t want to have to surrender my stuff just because it doesn’t switch on,” he said. “So I want to make sure it’s all fully charged.
“But it’s no big deal. No one likes a lot of hassle when they travel, but I would rather turn on my phone and laptop for security than be blown up in the sky.”
And that appears to be the general feeling among travellers. Emily Healy, on her way to Malaysia to meet a friend on holiday, said she was happy to comply with the new measures as long as she heard nothing about “the B word”.
In a written Parliamentary statement, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the country faced “a constantly evolving threat from terrorism”.
He added that there was no change to the UK terror threat level, which was “substantial”.
Analysts have suggested that the action could be a response to efforts by Islamic militants in Syria and Yemen to build bombs which evade airport security checks.
Other devices in the Customs’ firing line are electrical shavers, travel irons, hairdryers, hair straighteners, cameras or any other camera equipment.
The US authorities are also concerned that hard-to-detect bombs could be built into shoes, or other items of clothing.
It all adds up to more misery for holiday-makers this summer because the extra checks will almost certainly lead to even longer queues and delays, especially during the forthcoming holiday season.