To take off, power up

The latest safety rule for flights to the US is dispiriting, even to the most seasoned and security-accepting traveller.

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Air travellers already need to be a stoic lot, enduring all kinds of indignities – removing belts and shoes, emptying pockets, dumping drinks – in the cause of aviation security. Even so, the latest requirement to demonstrate that all one's electronic devices actually work is enough to make even the most seasoned globetrotter headed to the US pause for thought.

While the logic behind the rule is obvious enough, it is the implications for what it will inevitably mean at the airport that is so dispiriting. Who hasn’t found themselves behind a fellow passenger who delays every­one by having to go through the metal detector again and again, each time surrending another piece of metalware in an attempt to work out what was setting off the alarm?

Now imagine that increased in proportion to the ubiquity of personal electronics nowadays. It’s not unusual for the average traveller to have a laptop, a tablet, a smartphone – or two – and some kind of gaming console to while away the hours on board. Having to power up each one takes time. And especially for the solid proportion of smartphone owners whose battery levels seem to perpetually hover in the red – and that person is guaranteed to be the one in front of you in the queue.