US bans electronic devices on flights from Middle East and North Africa

Citing potential security threats and extremists seeking “innovative methods” to bring down flights, the United States has indefinitely banned virtually every electronic device from the cabin baggage of passengers flying on nine middle-eastern and north-African airlines or from 10 airports in the region, destined to the US. Domestic flights within, and international flights from, the US are exempt from these “security enhancements”.

The nine affected airlines have been given 96 hours (four days), beginning at 07:00 GMT on Tuesday, to ban devices bigger than a mobile or smart phone from the cabins. This includes but not limited to:

  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • E-Readers
  • Cameras
  • Portable DVD players
  • Electronic game units larger than a smartphone
  • Travel printers/scanners

These large electronic devices can only be carried in the check-in baggage. Phones are exempted from the ban and may be carried in the cabin. “Necessary medical devices will be allowed to remain in a passenger’s possession after they are screened”.

The nine affected airlines are:

  1. Egypt Air (hub Cairo)
  2. Emirates (hub Dubai)
  3. Etihad Airways (hub Abu Dhabi)
  4. Kuwait Airways (hub Kuwait City)
  5. Qatar Airways (hub Doha)
  6. Royal Air Maroc (hub Casablanca)
  7. Royal Jordanian (hub Amman)
  8. Saudi Arabian Airlines (hubs Riyadh and Jeddah)
  9. Turkish Airlines (hub Istanbul)

The 10 affected airports are:

  1. Queen Alia International Airport, Amman, Jordan (AMM)
  2. Abu Dhabi International Airport, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (AUH)
  3. Cairo International Airport, Cairo, Egypt (CAI)
  4. Mohammed V Airport Casablanca, Morocco (CMN),
  5. Hamad International Airport, Doha, Qatar (DOH)
  6. Dubai International Airport, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (DXB)
  7. Kuwait International Airport, Kuwait City, Kuwait (KWI),
  8. Ataturk International Airport, Istanbul, Turkey (IST),
  9. King Abdul-Aziz International Airport, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (JED)
  10. King Khalid International Airport, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (RUH)

US Dept of Homeland Security fact sheet

For full information, you can read the fact sheet on the Department of Homeland Security web site.

For more information on the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ‘Pack Safe’ for Lithium Ion and Lithium Metal batteries visit this page.

The FAA has also published a FAQ (frequently asked questions) PDF document titled Airline Passengers and Batteries which can be downloaded from here.

Impacting India and premium passengers

This move will clearly impact passengers from India who heavily patronise the affected airlines, especially the MEB4 (Middle East Big 4 – Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, and Turkish). The move will also impact premium cabin passengers who carry their electronics with them as a matter of routine.

Forcing them to check-in the expensive and delicate electronics may very well result in their opting for other airlines from Europe, India or Asia. How these affected carriers handle the impact on their premium passengers will be key to retaining their business. How well do Indian passengers handle this ban remains to be seen.

Will the UK and Europe impose ban?

It is unclear whether the United Kingdom and Europe will follow suit on this electronics equipment ban. Going by past history, the United Kingdom will almost certainly follow the United States. Europe may take a more measured approach.

Your comments

Do you have a trip upcoming on one of the affected airlines or via the affected airports? Share your thoughts in a comment.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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