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According to some reports, your electronic devices are checked whether they turn on before you can get on a US bound flight. What if I carry around a laptop without a battery?

  • it's one of those things: it does not ALWAYS HAPPEN, but it MIGHT. Note. Say your battery is totally working: for that matter, there's a small chance they might (say) thoroughly search the actual files and so on, fully scan your drive, etc. It's in the "COULD be a problem" situation book. – Fattie Aug 25 '14 at 11:15
  • Note: Mid July, travelling through London Heathrow, there were posters everywhere saying 'be sure to have electronic devices charged so they can turn on'. However, we travelled with 1 laptop, 2 ipads, 1 Kindle fire, 2 smartphones and was not asked to turn any of them on. – Ida Aug 25 '14 at 20:57
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not ARE, but CAN BE. If asked and you can't turn it on, it can be confiscated.
No reason to risk it, just charge the darn thing before you leave and have the battery in.

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    What if the battery connection doesn't work, or the battery doesn't hold charge? -- I would hope that they'll let you turn it on from a power outlet (I'm assuming it does actually work) but I've no evidence that they will or any idea how you'd go about arguing that case. – SpaceDog Aug 25 '14 at 9:59
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    @SpaceDog they might well let you if there's one available, but they may confiscate the battery. From what I've read the "rules" are typically vague, one reading even demands that all batteries are FULLY charged on any flights to the US or UK. But flying from Amsterdam to the UK earlier this month with a camera and several spare batteries I wasn't asked to demonstrate any of them, even though my bag was singled out for manual checking and completely emptied (the security person did help me repack :) ). – jwenting Aug 25 '14 at 10:22
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    Good luck confiscating the battery ;) this is a quite old ThinkPad X61 laptop I bought off eBay for $50. It didn't come with a battery (or a charger or a hard drive but I added those). And yes, I have a technologically sound reason to have a separate secondary laptop no matter how old. – chx Aug 25 '14 at 12:26
  • @pnuts that was regarding having several uncharged loose batteries. Theoretically they could confiscate the uncharged batteries as potential bombs, because you wouldn't be able to demonstrate that they're really batteries. – jwenting Oct 16 '14 at 6:38
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Only devices in carry-on luggage are checked. If you for some reason need to take laptop w/o battery or with battery discharged, you can still put it in the checked-in luggage.

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    Laptop in checked-in?? It's old but I still want to use it the other end. It's just a ThinkPad not a Panasonic in a Pelican case. – chx Aug 25 '14 at 12:25
  • @chx Don't you need a battery for that? – Michael Hampton Aug 25 '14 at 17:27
  • @MichaelHampton no, many laptops can work from AC just as well. – chx Jul 18 '17 at 10:26
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Why do they want to check that electronic devices turn on? Because it is possible to create explosives that very much look like a battery when they are x-rayed. So to make sure that your laptop doesn't contain explosives, they ask you to turn it on.

If you have no battery, then obviously you don't have any explosives pretending to be a battery either. So they should not require you to turn the laptop on, or opening the battery case and showing there is no battery should be fine as well. So if the security people can think logically, you will be fine.

But would you want to bet that they can think logically?

PS. Googled and found an article from 2014 claiming that British Airways won't let you on a flight if you have a device that doesn't turn on - even if you manage to charge the device and come back. Which is utterly ridiculous but not unexpected.

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