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Some U.S.-Bound Air Travelers Must Turn On Phones

WASHINGTON (WJZ) -- Turn on your cell phone or you can forget flying. That's the message from the TSA to international travelers. It's part of a plan to tighten security for those coming into the US.

Jessica Kartalija has more.

Security checkpoints have another new regulation in place for travelers. Cell phones, tablets and laptops must be powered up or they won't be allowed onboard.

"That's going to be difficult because there have been many times my phone has been out of juice at the airport," a traveler said.

Jeff Price, an aviation security consultant, says intelligence suggests that terrorist organizations may be turning to these electronics as triggering devices.

"Taking the simple step of turning it on at the checkpoint is really a big deterrent. These types of procedures don't win wars; they win battles and delay things and hopefully we can catch people down the road," he said.

In recent years, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has taken responsibility for two airline attacks. On Christmas Day in 2009, a man tried and failed to detonate explosives hidden in his underwear. A year later, plastic explosives were discovered hidden in printer cartridges headed from Yemen to the US.

"I am all for it. When you are on the plane, if something happens like that---they are trying to help us," said one.

While no specific threat is responsible for these new measures, US officials say these changes will apply to US citizens, as well as to foreign visitors. The TSA is not revealing which airports are part of the security measures.

The changes will primarily focus on airports in Europe and the Middle East.

Passengers traveling with devices that won't turn on won't be permitted to take them on board.

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