Passengers travelling to the US could be asked to switch on their electronic devices at airport security, and equipment that does not power-up will not be allowed on board.
The move comes as part of a security clampdown at airports with direct flights to the US after American officials last week warned of a “credible” terrorist threat (see news, July 3).
The increased checks are featuring at UK airports, including Heathrow.
Over the weekend, US officials requested some airports step-up security checks further, specifically on electronic devices.
A statement from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said: “During the security examination, officers may also ask that owners power-up some devices, including cell phones.
“Powerless devices will not be permitted on board the aircraft. The traveller may also undergo additional screening.”
US officials have not specified what intelligence led to the new call for heightened security, nor which airports or countries will be affected.
However, Reuters last week reported that security will be increased at European airports following intelligence that Al-Qaeda networks in Syria and Yemen are developing a bomb that could evade existing checks.
UK transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin confirmed that British airports are among those that will implement tightened security.
In May, Heathrow and Gatwick played down suggestions that new technology will lead to rules on liquids in hand luggage being relaxed soon (see news, May 7).