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[UPDATED] US and UK ban devices from carry-on baggage on several Middle Eastern and African flights

Passengers flying to the United States from eight different countries are banned from bringing electronic devices on their cabin baggage. Passengers on some North African and Middle Eastern flights are required to check on any device larger than a cell phone, the Department of Homeland Security confirms. On the 22nd of March, the United Kingdom followed, banning devices on flights from six countries.

Update March 24

Emirates introduces a new service to their customers, so that they won’t have to check-in their electronic devices. When travelers are in Dubai, ready for their trip to the United States, they can declare and hand over their laptops, tablets, and other banned electronic devices to security staff at the gate just before boarding their flight. The devices will be carefully loaded into the aircraft and returned to the traveler at their US destination, without charge. This way, travelers can still use their devices at the airport.

Update March 22

The United Kingdom government also announces a cabin ban on electronic devices larger than phones, similar to the US directive on March 22.  It concerns direct passenger flights from Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Jordan.

Six UK airlines (British Airways, EasyJet, Monarch, Thomas Cook, Jet2 and Thomson), as well as eight carriers outside the UK, are affected by the ban. The restrictions are effective immediately, but will not apply to flights where UK travelers go through other European airports.

Update March 21

Large devices banned from carry-on baggage

The ban includes all large electronic devices like laptops, tablets, cameras, DVD players and electronic games without exception. However, phones are not banned from carry-on baggage. The new policy took effect at 3 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Tuesday and must be adhered to within 96 hours. The ban only applies to flights on foreign airlines, and not American carriers. Officials would not confirm how long the ban remains in place or if other airports will be added.

Approximately fifty flights each day into the United States are affected. A government official told Associated Press (AP) that it would concern the following ten airports located in eight countries:

  • Queen Alia International, Amman, Jordan
  • Cairo International Airport, Egypt
  • Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
  • King Abdulaziz International, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • King Khalid International, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • Kuwait International Airport
  • Mohammed V International, Casablanca, Morocco
  • Hamad International, Doha, Qatar
  • Dubai International, United Arab Emirates
  • Abu Dhabi International, United Arab Emirates

CNN reports the order has been triggered by gathered foreign intelligence. An aviation official told the news network that there are security concerns regarding passengers boarding nonstop flights to the United States from several Middle Eastern and African countries. Intelligence agencies are concerned the screening process in some countries is not sufficient enough.

Sources added that they believe a threat to the United States would be nullified if a passenger travels through another city with additional and more thorough screening procedures. With the ban on electronic devices from carry-on baggage, the intelligence community is trying to ensure the security at the selected airports is enhanced.

Etihad Airways from the United Arab Emirates said the US government send a directive and Etihad was reviewing it. Turkish Airlines also confirmed that it had received a notification. Emirates said it hadn't yet received any notice but would "comply with any new operational or regulatory requirements issued by the relevant authorities."

In a statement on Twitter, Saudi Arabian Airlines told its customers that new measures from the TSA include a ban on laptops and tablets, like iPads and Kindles, in carry-on baggage on flights to the United States. It said the measure will take effect on Wednesday.

Royal Jordanian Airlines also send out a Tweet that it will ban most electronics from the cabins on its flights to and from its North American destinations. Later the tweet was deleted without explanation.

As a humanitarian traveler, this directive might affect you. Long flights overseas are an ideal opportunity to get some work done especially on the humanitarian front. Want to know more about how to deal with this development as a traveler? Never hesitate to contact the nearest Raptim office!