Airport security rules explained - get the simple clear details you need right here (2022)

Flying out of the UK? Make sure you’re up to date with the latest on electronic devices and new laptop ban security rules at Gatwick Airportand other UK airports.

Here’s the must-have information to ensure you don’t miss your flight – or have expensive phones, tablets or other devices confiscated.

New rules
Electronic device requirements

Phone chargers
Can you take your power pack

Emergency charging
Where to charge at Gatwick

Laptop cabin ban
Latest on UK and US ban

Where to pack and use

Body scanners
Find all the info you need

Airport security rules explained - get the simple clear details you need right here (1)

Don’t lose your device at security

By its nature, airport security can be secretive with fast-moving changes as authorities react to ever-changing needs of other countries and international issues. Here’s the information you’ll need to negotiate Gatwick Airport security – and not risk losing your electronic devices.

Cabin laptop and tablet ban: All you need to know about restrictions from selected Middle Eastern and North African countries

Britain is following the US by blocking passengers from carrying tablets, DVD players and phones over a certain size on flights heading to the UK from selected airports in Middle Eastern countries.

Here’s all you need to know about the ban; how it works and where it applies.

Airport security rules explained - get the simple clear details you need right here (2)

Find out all you need to know about the new laptop ban

What are the new rules affecting travelling with electronic devices?

The Government introduced new aviation rules on March 21, which banned selected electronic devices from being carried in the cabin on flights to the UK from six countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The new restrictions relate to security concerns on flights originating from these countries. The move follows a similar ban introduced by the US authorities.
The ban includes large phones, all laptops, all tablets and e-readers such as Kindles.

What countries are covered by the ban laptops and tablets in the cabin?

UPDATE JULY 28, 2017:Passengers flying from Ataturk and Izmir airports in Turkey will now be allowed to carry electronic devices – such as laptops -in the cabin. However, this only applies to passengers flying with Turkish Airlines or Pegasus. All other Turkish airports are still covered by the ban.
The Government’s new rules mean that large electronic devices will be banned from being carried in the cabin from the following countries.


Saudi Arabia

What electronic devices are affected by the cabin ban?

The UK cabin ban on large electronic devices from some Middle Eastern and North African countries include the following – which will all need to be packed in hold luggage.
1. All laptops
2. Smartphones equal to or larger than 16cm x 9.3cm by 1.5cm
3. Kindles and other e-readers will need to be placed in the hold
4. iPad Pro, Microsoft Surface and Nintendo Switch gaming system

What is the maximum size of a an electronic device that can be carried in the cabin from the affected countries?

The newmeasures will mean that phones, laptops and tablets larger than the following dimensions will not be allowed in the cabin:
length: 16.0cm
width: 9.3cm
depth: 1.5cm

Where do I pack spare batteries and portable power chargers?

If travelling from the six restricted countries named above, you will NOT be able to carry spare batteries or portable power sources either inHOLDor CABIN luggage.

Can I take my phone in the cabin?

Standard-sized smartphones will be fine in the cabin, along with most larger devices.
The following ‘larger’ smartphones can be carried in the cabin:
iPhone 7 Plus
Samsung Galaxy 7 Edge
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Sony Xperia Z2

Will packing my laptop or tablet in the hold mean it is not insured?

It has also been reported by ABTA that devices placed in the hold are not typically covered by travel insurance. Make sure you read the small print of your travel insurance before you travel to ensure you’re covered.
Some policies only cover electronic goods for less than they are likely to be worth. Double-check the figures.

Does the cabin laptop ban apply to flights from the UK to the six named countries?

(Video) At the Airport

No. The UK has some of the most robust aviation security systems and measures in the world, so it is not believed to be “necessary” to extend the ban to outbound flight to the six named countries.

What about a new tablet I’ve bought in duty free?

Don’t! You will not be able to carry it in the cabin on your trip back to the UK.

Is the US ban on incoming flights the same as the UK’s restrictions?

The US ban prevents devices such as cameras, DVD players, laptops and games being carried in the cabin – whereas cameras are not banned by the UK’s restrictions.

What originating airports have restrictions for thoseflying into the US?

Passengers flying into the US from these airports on non-American operators will be hit by the new rules on electronic devices. :
1. Mohammed V International, Casablanca, Morocco
2. Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
3. Cairo International Airport, Egypt
4. Queen Alia International, Amman, Jordan
5. King Abdulaziz International, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
6. King Khalid International, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
7. Kuwait International Airport
8. Hamad International, Doha, Qatar
9. Abu Dhabi International, United Arab Emirates
10. Dubai International, United Arab Emirates
It does not apply to American-operated carriers.
The new rules took effect at 3 a.m. E.D.T. on Tuesday, and must be followed within 96 hours by airlines flying to the United States from the above airports.

Will my essential medical equipment be banned from the cabin?

As long as it is essential, medical equipment can be carried in the cabin on flights from the six restricted countries.

The equipment will be screened and you will need a letter from your doctor or medical professional confirming you need the device at hand during the flight.

Here is a quick guide to medical equipment and where it can be carried on all flights.

ItemHand luggageHold luggage
Tablets and capsulesYesYes
Essential liquid medicinesYesYes
Hypodermic syringesYesYes
Cooling gel packsYesYes
Medical equipment (CPAP and TENS machines etc.)YesYes
Oxygen cylindersContact your airlineContact your airline

List of UK carriers affected by the ban

The UK airlines affected by the ban on large electronic devices from some Middle Eastern and North African countries:

1. British Airways

2. easyJet

3. Jet

4. Monarch

5. Thomas Cook

6. Thomson

List of overseas carriersaffected by the ban

The foreign airlines affected by the ban on large electronic devices from some Middle Eastern and North African countries:

1. Turkish Airlines

2. Pegasus Airways

3. Atlas-Global Airlines

4. Middle East Airlines

5. Egyptair

6. Royal Jordanian

7. Tunis Air

8. Saudia

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 banned from US flights

Officials in the US have revealed passengers will not be able to take the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 on flights or in their luggage to and from the US from 16:00 GMT on Saturday, October 15.

The ban applies to all flights and not just US-based airlines.

The announcement was made by theThe US Department of Transportation.

An official statement says: “If passengers attempt to travel by air with their Samsung Galaxy Note7 devices, they will be denied boarding.”

Read the full statement here.

Rules demanding that electronic devices must be able to be switched on

What are the new security measures:

Anyone flying from Gatwick Airport or all other UK airports is expected to be able to show that electronic devices in their hand luggage can be switched on. This doesn’t just apply to US-bound flights, either – passengers could be asked to power-up devices on any route.

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Are devices checked at ‘security’ or at the boarding gate:

Interesting question. Many airlines are stating on their websites that they have charging facilities at the gate where passengers can charge devices if they have time. When we contacted the DfT, a spokesman told us this information was not available for security reasons. The spokesman’s advice was to make sure all your devices are charged while at the airport. However, most statements from airlines suggest that it is ‘at the gate’ where you’ll need to prove the device is operational. This is important because it opens up more ‘charging’ locations.

Do the new rules apply only to passengers flying out of Gatwick Airport:

No – official guidance states that you must be able to switch on devices when ‘flying to and from the UK’.

Is it just phones and laptops:

Phones, tablets and laptops will certainly be on the list, but also devices such as MP3 players, camera equipment, electric shavers, along with hair dryers and straighteners. These are all devices that you’re allowed to carry in hand luggage.

Will I need to worry about devices in the hold:

It’s not clear and the Department for Transport has not elaborated on this. However, most devices with rechargeable batteries – such as phones, laptops and some chargers – are banned from hold luggage, so it’s best to ensure all devices can be switched on.

Which airports and destinations:

Once again, the DfT is not giving away detailed information apart from confirming the restrictions will apply to flights to and from the United States. However, the underlying advice is that all international passengers should be in a position to comply with requests to turn on devices. UK travel organisation ABTA says the DfT has advised it that the new measures will affect ‘some routes into and out of the UK’ but it’s not saying which.

What will airlines do if the device won’t switch on:

Here’s how a selection of popular airlines plan to address the problem of passengers with uncharged or broken devices.

British Airways: BA originally said that out-of-charge passengers would have to reschedule their flight but later updated this by stating they could choose to fly and have the device posted to an address of their choice. The airline will foot the bill.

Virgin Atlantic: Like British Airways, Virgin Atlantic has offered to pay for the broken or uncharged device to be posted to an address of the passenger’s choice.

Thomas Cook: The airline says that passengers would be allowed to join the flight from Gatwick Airport if they left their drained device behind, or arranged to have it forwarded on – presumably at their own cost.

Monarch and Thomson Holidays: No comment has been issued.

easyJet: The budget airline gave APH the following statement: “The safety and security of its passengers and crew is easyJet’s highest priority. The airline fully adheres to all regulations which apply to its flights. easyJet is aware that the DfT may extend some of the new security measures but at this stage no new measures have been applied to passengers flying on easyJet flights. If that changes we will advise our passengers accordingly.”

American Airlines: The airline told Huffington Post: “Customers departing from certain European airports with electronic devices that won’t power on will be given the option to mail the device to their home or other location, discard the device, or be rebooked on a later flight at no charge.”

What if my devices aren’t charged when asked to turn them on:

Anyone who can’t turn on a device when asked could be barred from the flight, or more likely have the device confiscated.

Do I need to arrive early for my flight:

Most airlines at Gatwick say ‘no’. However, British Airways has advised passengers to arrive a little earlier than they normally would. However, Gatwick Airport is currently saying that travellers don’t need to arrive any earlier than standard times – which are as follows:

International flights:
check-in opens 4 hours prior to departure

European flights:
check-in 3 hours prior to departure

Domestic flights:
check in opens 2 hours prior to departure

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Can I charge my device at the airport:

If your phone or other device is out of charge, there are options at Gatwick Airport. Read our full report later in this article.

Can I take my portable phone charger (power pack) on a plane?

Airport security rules explained - get the simple clear details you need right here (3)

Can you take a phone charger on a plane? We’ve the answer here

Most planes will have charging ports for phones and other devices at the seat, but you’ll still need to keep your mobile devices charged as you approach security. To make sure this is possible, many travellers take power packs – but what are the rules around these when boarding?

Do not pack you portable charger (power pack) in hold luggage: Taking your portable phone charger (power pack) on a plane is fine, but just remember to pack it in your hand luggage. Do not put them in your hold luggage as this is not permitted and could result in your luggage not being loaded.

Leave some charge in your power pack: Many airlines will still require you to prove an electrical device, such as phone or tablet, can be switched on before you can take it on board as hand luggage, so the same is likely to apply to portable phone chargers (power packs). Always ensure units contain charge as you will not be able to pack them in your hold luggage as an alternative way to carry them.

Can I pack any portable chargers in my hold luggage: The Gatwick Airport website states that ‘Lithium batteries should be carried in your hand luggage only’, so those with ‘alternative chargers’ may be tempted to pack power packs that use solar or wind-up power in the hold. However, while these devices are charge by the likes of sun and kinetic power, most still house Lithium batteries to store the power. Pop them in your hand luggage and make sure they have power.

E-cigarettes and vaping on planes – the information you need

Where to carry your device, packing spare batteries and can you use it on the plane… all covered here.

Airport security rules explained - get the simple clear details you need right here (4)

Vaping… all you need to know

With the banning of cigarettes in many indoor spaces and public areas, e-cigarettes have become increasingly popular with more than 3 million people using them in the UK alone – but how do they fit in with flying? Find out here…

Can I use my e-cigarette on the plane:The question of comparing e-cigarettes with regular tobacco products is contentious, with many commercial establishments allowing the devices to be used in an attempt to to beat the smoking bans.

This is not the case on planes. It’s very clear – you are not allowed to ‘vape’ on planes.

Where do I need to pack my e-cigarette or similar device:Anyone travelling with e-cigarettes, e-cigars, personal vaporizers and electronic nicotine delivery systems must pack the device in their hand luggage. This is because these devices often contain lithium batteries, which are not allowed in a plane’s hold – so must not be in your ‘checked’ luggage.

Can I recharge my e-cigarette or similar device when on the plane:No. You are not permitted to recharge your ‘vaping’ device while in the aircraft. This is to avoid the risk of them overheating and causing a fire risk.

Can I pack spare batteries for my e-cigarette system:Any spare batteries must be individually protected by the original unopened packaging, by insulating terminals with tape or packing each battery in a separate pouch / plastic bag.

Passengers can take no more than two individually protected spare batteries.

So it is okay to carry all rechargeable batteries in the plane:It’s fine to carry rechargeable batteries that have a Watt hour (Wh) rating of not more than 100Wh – the new iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S7 are rated around 11Wh to put this in context. However, the batteries must not be packed in checked luggage.

If your power packs fall outside of this range, you should contact airline to seek further advice.

Portable power packs for your phone – that don’t need charging

Getting yourself a portable power pack is a great way to ensure you’ve always got juice in your phone. However, many power packs require charging themselves – meaning they might not have power to top up your device and then get confiscated themselves. Here are some alternative charging devices that should be ready to go at all times.

Airport security rules explained - get the simple clear details you need right here (5)

Save your battery

Airport security rules explained - get the simple clear details you need right here (6)

How to increase your battery life

While all electrical devices need to be charged, it’s likely to be smartphones that will cause most angst for travellers. So, if your power bar’s heading south at an alarming rate, here are our tips for conserving your battery power.

1: Ensure you close all apps running in the background. Despite not being in use, they’ll constantly check for updates and zap your power.

2: Turn off Wi-Fi, mobile data roaming and Bluetooth. These will continually search for connections and soak up even more power.

3: Turn off GPS. While you might not be able to locate your exact position, looking out of a window and spotting a large jet parked outside should help confirm you’re at the airport. Shutting down your GPS will save plenty of battery power.

4: Disable vibrate: It might be a great way to let you know when your phone’s ringing while it’s set to silent – but it will also take liberties with your battery. Turn it off now.

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5: Dim the screen. Doing this will help reduce the amount of power needed to light your screen – giving you even more minutes of battery life. Don’t forget to disable ‘haptic’ feedback, too. This is the slight buzz when you tap the screen while writing texts, etc.

6: Enable airplane mode. Going under the radar for an hour or two at the airport will be a small price to pay for not having your phone confiscated at the gate. Airplane mode will ensure all battery power-munching connections are cut.

Emergency charging at Gatwick airport

So, you’ve arrived at Gatwick airport, had a rummage through your hand luggage and realised one of your electronic devices has a flat battery. Everything from smartphones to rechargeable hairdryers and shavers could need to be turned on as you reach the gate – otherwise they’ll face confiscation and you could even be denied your seat on the plane. Here are your options…

Chargebox kiosks at Gatwick Airport: Gatwick Airport offers ChargeBox kiosks where you can boost your smartphone’s battery as you wait to fly. The service consists of a secure locker equipped with charging leads and adaptors for most popular handsets. You can charge your device for between 30 and 90 minutes. The lockers have a unique key for added security and are located in the departures lounge of North & South terminal – meaing you can leave them charging as you head off and get a meal or do some shopping. Using the service costs from £1.50 for 30 minutes.
More information: Find out more about the Charge Box service here

Speak to your airline: Several airlines are offering charging facilities at the gate. Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have said they will offer limited facilities – including adaptors – for its customers at the gate. Make sure you get there early.

Gatwick lounges: Charge your device in luxury, as you join the jest set and dodge the crowds ini one of Gatwick Airport’s exclusive lounges. You can enter them up to three hours before you fly, so there should be plenty of time to get a good charge in your device. Make sure you have your own leads and adaptors. Enjoy free drinks and snacks in these exclusive lounges from £16.00.

Book your place here

Full body scanners at Gatwick Airport – Your questions answered

Airport security rules explained - get the simple clear details you need right here (7)

Get the body scanner facts here

Anyone flying from Gatwick could be asked to undertake a full body scan. Being selected can be a daunting experience, so here’s all the information you need to make sure you’re fully aware of what the machine does and if you can refuse the request to be ‘scanned’.

Gatwick’s scanning system uses millimetre wave imaging technology to flag objects that could be concealed under clothing. Here are more answers to questions you might be asking

Are they safe to use:

Yes, according to Government research. Tests have concluded that the scanner is less invasive than a mobile phone or than being in the sun. It is also certified as safe for pregnant women, children and those with medical implants such as pacemakers.

Will everyone have to go inside one:

No. Passengers will go through the usual metal detector gates, but some will be picked out at random to be tested in the scanner. The exact reasons why someone gets chosen are kept secret for security reasons, but selection cannot be based on on ethnicity, origin, gender or destination of travel.

What happens when I am scanned:

If chosen, you will be asked to stand in the machine and assume a particular position. There might also be a request to rotate to a second position. The scan will take just a few minutes.

Will I be naked in the image:

No, not in any image that’ll be seen by a human. The scanner uses an Automatic Threat Recognition and Detection functionality to digitally look for possible threats. If any are detected, the scanner will display them on a ‘gingerbread man’ image for the human operator to review. He will then decide if a physical search is needed.

Are the original images stored:

The image is analysed from within the computer and will never be seen, transmitted, saved or printed.

Are children exempt from the scanner:

No. Children might also be asked to go through the body scanner.

Can I refuse to be scanned:

The Government’s Code of Conduct covering body scanners states: ‘An individual may opt out of being scanned. In this instance, the individual must either be screened by an alternative method which includes at least an enhanced hand search in private or that individual must not be permitted to enter the security restricted area, or, if applicable, he or she must be removed from it. An enhanced hand search in private must take place in a private room or an area away from the main search comb. This may involve the loosening or removal of clothing.

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What does CLEAR mean at airport security? ›

Clear is a registered traveler program that allows members to quickly verify their identities at touchless, biometric security kiosks.

What do you need to setup CLEAR at the airport? ›

All You Need Is You.

Our signature CLEAR Airport Lanes enable access to predictable and fast identity verification to breeze through security for our members. Start your easy, one-time enrollment below, then finish at any airport CLEAR location – no appointment necessary, just bring a valid government-issued ID.

What two items are always required before passing through airport security? ›

Be prepared to show screening officials your identification, whether it be a driver's license or passport, and your boarding pass at any time.

Is CLEAR better than PreCheck? ›

Is Clear better than PreCheck? Since it is available at more airports and provides expedited security wait times as well as an easier screening process, the winner is TSA PreCheck. Those with Clear membership only have access to faster security lanes.

How long does it take to get CLEAR approved? ›

Travelers can become new members of Clear in just five minutes and start using its lanes immediately once their enrollment is complete.

What are the steps to get CLEAR? ›

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How do I get TSA PreCheck for free? ›

The best way to get TSA PreCheck for free is by carrying an eligible credit card. Dozens of credit cards reimburse the TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee if you use that card to pay upfront.

Can you use CLEAR without TSA PreCheck? ›

Likewise, even if you're not flying an airline that participates in TSA PreCheck, you can still use the Clear kiosks. Cons: If you want to use TSA PreCheck security screening, you must join that program separately. Joining Clear requires handing over your biometric data.

What should I bring in my carry-on? ›

7 items you should always pack in your carry-on bag
  • Your Passport Or ID. Don't forget to keep some form of identification on you. ...
  • Phone and device chargers. ...
  • A change of clothes. ...
  • Headphones. ...
  • Refillable water bottle. ...
  • Daily medication. ...
  • COVID-19 safety supplies.
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Can toothpaste go on a carry-on? ›

Yes, toothpaste must adhere to the 3-1-1 rule for liquids and gels. Toothpaste can be brought through TSA security in your carry-on as long as it is 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less and placed in a 1-quart bag.

What is not allowed in a carry-on bag? ›

all drinks, including water. liquid or semi-liquid foods, for example soup, jam, honey and syrups. cosmetics and toiletries, including creams, lotions, oils, perfumes, mascara and lip gloss. sprays, including shaving foam, hairspray and spray deodorants.

Do liquids need to be in a clear bag? ›

TSA does not specify that toiletry bags need to be clear. However, when traveling with liquids, using a clear bag will help expedite the TSA process so agents can see everything easily without further inspection.

Do I need to print my boarding pass? ›

Can I use my mobile boarding pass to go through the security checkpoint and board my flight? Yes, simply show your mobile boarding pass on a mobile phone, iPad, or Apple Watch and a valid form of identification to the TSA Agent at security to proceed.

Do I need to remove liquids from carry-on? ›

Any item that alarms or is unable to be screened will not be permitted in your carry-on bag. We recommend packing all liquids, gels, and aerosols that are over 3.4 oz or 100 ml in your checked baggage, even if they are in a secure, tamper-evident bag.

Is CLEAR at the airport worth it? ›

In our experience, CLEAR® can cut your time waiting in airport security lines in half or more. With both CLEAR® and PreCheck, I regularly get all the way through security in five minutes or less. And that, to me, is worth the extra cost.

Does CLEAR give you TSA PreCheck? ›

CLEAR® uses your eyes and fingertips rather than traditional IDs to verify your identity when you travel. The most expensive program of the three, CLEAR® costs $189 for an annual membership and does not include TSA PreCheck, like Global Entry does.

Do I need TSA PreCheck if I have CLEAR? ›

Members enter the United States through automatic kiosks at select airports. Many of our members enjoy CLEAR along with these other services, but CLEAR members do not need TSA PreCheck® or Global Entry to enjoy the benefits of CLEAR.

Which is better Global Entry or CLEAR? ›

Global Entry membership includes all of these benefits, plus provides expedited immigration and customs screening when returning from an international flight. CLEAR allows travelers to skip the long lines for ID verifications by using one of their dedicated terminals which use biometric data.


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