Airlines to pick up bill for new security rules

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The UK’s two major transatlantic carriers British Airways and Virgin Atlantic will foot the bill for sending on any uncharged electronic device to passengers stopped from flying with them under new regulations.

Updated guidance from the Department for Transport means all air passengers flying into or out of UK airports must ensure their electronic devices are charged.

Advice issued at the weekend concerned passengers flying to the United States, but on Tuesday night that instruction was widened to affect anyone flying into or out of the UK.

New restrictions requiring all electronic devices, including mobile phones and tablets, to be charged so they can be switched on for security staff were announced by US authorities on Sunday.

The heightened security comes amid reports two terror networks are working together on a bomb that could evade existing measures.

Virgin initially said today that passengers deciding to fly without their uncharged devices would have to pay for the cost of sending the devices to a chosen address.

But later the firm said it had reviewed its policy and the airline had now decided that it will return devices to customers without a charge.

The two carriers are advising passengers to arrive at airports with devices fully charged as laid down by the new rules.

BA said that passengers should arrive in good time at check-in and also at the boarding gate, as there could be extra checks.

A spokesman said: “We have in place a range of options if customers are not able to comply, when requested, with the new regulations. Customers can ask to be rebooked on to a later service. If you wish to carry on the item as part of your hand luggage, you will need to ensure that the device can be charged ahead of your rebooked flight.

“Alternatively, customers can leave the device behind and hand it to a member of our customer service team. You will be asked to complete a form and the item can be collected on your return to Heathrow or forwarded to an address of your choice.”

EasyJet said it was seeking clarification from the UK Department for Transport on the regulations and had not, so far, issued any instructions to passengers.

UK travel organisation Abta said it was recommending passengers ensure all electronic devices are fully charged before departing from home and on their return journey.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s official spokesman told a Westminster media briefing that the tightening of security measures at airports “reflects the fact that there are terror organisations that seek to do UK citizens, the UK and citizens of other countries harm, and that we always need to be vigilant to what is an evolving threat.”