Muscat: Passengers travelling to the US from Muscat can be banned from boarding their flights from London, Doha, Dubai or Abu Dhabi if they fail to switch on any electrical device when asked.
As there are no direct flights to United States from Muscat, a large number of them fly via London, Doha, Dubai or Abu Dhabi. "There are no extra security arrangements at the Muscat International Airport for people flying to United States as we don't have any direct flights to any of the US cities, but a large number of airports and airlines are beefing up security measures following new rules and regulations in the US," an official at the Oman Airport Management Company (OAMC) said.
Leading the race is British Airways which on Monday announced that passengers may be asked to turn on any electronic or battery powered devices such as telephones, tablets, e-books and laptops in front of security teams and/or demonstrate the item's functionality if they are travelling to United States. "If, when asked to do so, you are unable to demonstrate that your device has power, you will not be allowed to fly on your planned service," it said in a statement on their website.
It also advised people to ensure that all devices are fully powered before they arrive at the airport. "Please do not bring any broken devices in your hand luggage to the airport as you will not be able to fly as planned," it said.
For long distance passengers flying to the US via London, it advised them to ensure that the devices are not completely depleted of power during the first leg of the journey. "There will be very limited charging points at airports," it said.
British Airways said that this new move is based on advice from US authorities. "The safety and security of our passengers remain our top priority at all times. And that is the reason we continue to work very closely with governments and airports around the world," it added.
US has issued new rules whereby staff at the boarding gates of certain airports around the world will ask passengers to switch on their phones.
If the gadgets do not turn on, the owner will not be allowed on the aircraft. "During the security examination, officers may also ask that owners power up some devices, including cellphones," said the US Transportation Security Administration in a post on its website.
The rule comes after US officials said that Yemen-based Al Qaeda had worked out how to turn phones into improvised explosive devices.