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Airport security: using your phone at airports

by on March 13, 2019
 

You’ve probably seen signs at airports clearly showing you can’t take photos or use phones in certain areas. While different airports may have slightly different rules and areas of restriction, you are generally not permitted to use a camera or other communications device in security areas. This will also include the making of phone calls or sending/receiving messages.

We recently received a message that stated that a “trial is in place from 1st February 2019 for customs staff to deliver “on the spot” fines of AU$340 for anyone found using electronic devices including mobile/cell phones within the customs controlled area of the international terminals at Brisbane and Gold Coast in Australia’. The sender was unable to verify the statement, or claims that a number of Chinese travellers had been caught on CCTV and fined heavily.

Economy Traveller emailed the Australian Border Force, who oversee security at Australian airports and received the following response:

There is no such trial being conducted. Under section 234AB(1) of the Customs Act 1901 (Customs Act), an ABF officer may direct a person not to use a camera, sound recorder, mobile phone or other electronic form of communication in a Customs controlled area. This legislation is not new. The ABF may issue an infringement to a person for an offence against section 234AB(1) of the Customs Act.  The infringement is 2 penalty units or $420.  Customs controlled areas, including areas operated by the Australian Border Force (ABF) at Australia’s international airports, display signage prohibiting the use of cameras, sound recorders, mobile phones and other electronic forms of communication. a spokesperson from the Australian Border Force.

Airport security – stay within the rules

So what are the rules?

This may vary from airport to airport. The most important one is that you observe the signs. If there’s a sign saying no phones/photographs etc, then don’t use anything that’s described in the warning above. This would include recorders and other electronic devices such as PCs and iPads.

Certainly you should avoid such activities in any area involved in security checks, immigration counters or customs areas. Baggage areas may also be restricted in some airports. It’s not sensible to stop and take photos/videos from the tarmac if your airport doesn’t have aerobridges. It could also be dangerous due to other traffic and the security personnel will generally stop you.

In Melbourne airport they are not pleased with people using phones etc to take video and photographs in areas near check-in or arrival areas. In other airports this may not be an issue, regardless of the country. Be guided by the signs and the number of security personnel around the area.

Be aware that your demeanour may also be a consideration. If you’re alone and taking photos or videos you’re more likely to be spoken to than someone clearly recording a family holiday. If you are approached by security personnel respond politely and apologise. Show what you have shot and delete if requested to do so.

An end note. Be aware that similar restrictions apply in many countries when you are in or near public buildings.

Happy travelling!

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