The Transportation Security Administration has found yet another way to make traveling terrible: Passengers boarding U.S.-bound flights at some foreign airports will not be allowed to board with electronic devices that don’t have enough juice to turn on. Forget to charge your gadget and being stuck in line without the joy of checking Twitter is the least of your worries. You’ll have to throw your phone away when it’s finally your turn to run the screening gauntlet.
The new rule—announced with no explanation of why it’s been created—has been widely and swiftly lampooned as one more example of TSA nonsense. It’s impressive that the agency has managed to make the already crummy ordeal of flying even worse. But don’t assume this is more TSA idiocy just yet.
The rule change may be obnoxious, but it’s not stupid, says Rafi Ron, the former director of security at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport, notorious for its strict screening procedures. The TSA is likely responding to new intelligence that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has developed explosives that are difficult to detect with current technology, Ron says. That calls for a change in procedure.
“I think that the measures that are taken make a lot of sense,” Ron says.
It should be noted that Ron is not a TSA apologist. He’s the guy who called the agency’s decision to make us all remove our shoes in response to Richard Reid’s shoe bomb debacle “an extremely unintelligent conclusion.”