The US Government is going to implement an electronics ban on some U.S.-bound flights starting from March 25 until October 14 2017. US carriers are not affected by the ban. However, the UK is due to announce a ban on laptops and other electronic devices on certain flights, following a similar move by the US. It is likely that the UK restrictions may differ from the US Department of Homeland Security's ban, which affects laptops and tablets. The ban will have a huge effect on the business travel industry and travelers who prefer not to check in luggage due to costs and efficiency.
The government will be barring passengers on all flights from eight Middle East and North African countries from bringing laptops, iPads, cameras, kindles and other electronics in carry-on luggage. Mobile phones are excluded from the ban.
The new ruling will reportedly affect the following airlines:
- Royal Jordanian
- Egypt Air
- Turkish Airlines
- Saudi Arabian Airlines
- Kuwait Airways
- Royal Air Maroc
- Qatar Airways
- Etihad Airways
Gulf airlines, Qatar, Emirates and Etihad as well as Turkish Airlines will be heavily affected due to their stop over locations which many travelers may avoid now in favor of routes traveling via European locations.
The following airports will be affected:
- Mohammed V International, Casablanca, Morocco
- Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
- Cairo International Airport, Egypt
- Queen Alia International, Amman, Jordan
- King Abdulaziz International, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
- King Khalid International, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
- Kuwait International Airport
- Hamad International, Doha, Qatar
- Abu Dhabi International, United Arab Emirates
- Dubai International, United Arab Emirates
Emirates airline issued a statement highlighting that “Electronic devices larger than a cell phone/smart phone, excluding medical devices, cannot be carried in the cabin of the aircraft…It is applicable to all US-bound passengers from Dubai International Airport, whether originating or transiting through. Emirates requests that all passengers traveling to the US pack all electronic devices larger than a cell phone/smart phone in their checked-in baggage.”
So what is the reason for the sudden ban? The Department for Homeland security issued a statement highlighting the governments ever growing concerns over terrorist activity on commercial airlines. "Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items."
"The US government is concerned about terrorists' ongoing interest in targeting commercial aviation, including transportation hubs over the past two years, as evidenced by the 2015 airliner downing in Egypt; the 2016 attempted airliner downing in Somalia; and the 2016 armed attacks against airports in Brussels and Istanbul," the DHS said.
Turkish Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan told reporters the ban was "not a right move". "We particularly emphasize how this will not benefit the passenger and that reverse steps or a softening should be adopted," he added. Similarly aviation security expert Jeffrey Price told the Associated Press news agency there could be downsides to the policy. "There would be a huge disadvantage to having everyone put their electronics in checked baggage," he said. Thefts from baggage would skyrocket and it would be more difficult to detect battery fires in laptops in the hold than in the cabin, he argued.
If you are a Travel Associates client and are concerned that this new ruling may affect any upcoming travel, please contact your Travel Associates Account Manager.
*Source BBC News and CBS News