Holidaymakers and business travellers who arrive at airport security with uncharged mobile phones or other electrical items will be stopped from boarding planes bound for the United States and effectively treated like “terrorists”.

British Airways said passengers who failed to turn on devices when asked will be immediately banned from their US flight and have to reschedule, even if they offer to abandon the item or send it on separately.

Britain’s main airline warned that even a new device bought in the airport lounge after passing through security will have to be charged up or the passenger will not be allowed to board at the gate. Any transfer passenger whose device has gone flat on the first leg will also be prevented from their onward travel unless they can recharge first.

It is the toughest stance taken since America ordered extra security checks on direct flights amid fears al-Qaeda has developed a new bomb that can evade current controls. It was announced on the ninth anniversary of the 7/7 terrorist bombings in London.

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