Laptop/electronics bans; official government rules and perhaps why all of this.

USA and UK (and now Australia to a different extent) have implemented travel requirements that prohibit the carriage of large electronic devices through various Middle Eastern ports and they’re not the same between countries.

Travelling to Affected countries/ports Restrictions details
United States

flag-of-United-States-of-America

  • Queen Alia International Airport (AMM)
  • Cairo International Airport (CAI)
  • Ataturk International Airport (IST)
  • King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED)
  • King Khalid International Airport (RUH)
  • Kuwait International Airport (KWI)
  • Mohammed V Airport (CMN)
  • Hamad International Airport (DOH)
  • Dubai International Airport (DXB)
  • Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)
Electronic devices larger than a cell phone/smart phone will not be allowed to be carried onboard the aircraft in carry-on luggage or other accessible property.

(I’d say anything larger than an iPhone Plus.)

Prohibits items like:

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

flag-of-United-Kingdom

  • Turkey
  • Lebanon
  • Egypt
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Jordan
  • Tunisia
Portable electronic devices (including peripherals like keyboards, mice, headphones) that exceed any one of the following dimensions:

  • Length: 16.0cm
  • Width: 9.3cm
  • Depth: 1.5cm

Prohibits

  • Large phones
  • All laptops
  • All tablets and e-readers
  • Keyboards
  • Power cable transformers
  • External hard drives
Australia

flag-of-Australia

  • Doha
  • Abu Dhabi
  • Dubai
No changes to existing restrictions.

Enhanced explosive detection screening for randomly selected passengers and their baggage, including targeted screening of electronic devices.

Official government announcements:

Airlines Impacted

  • Egyptair
  • Etihad
  • Emirates (Electronics ban information)
  • Kuwait Airways
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Jordanian
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Saudia
  • Turkish Airlines

Qantas had provided a short statement however don’t mention procedures with codeshare flights.

Where you might get stuck

Spare or separate device batteries and portable power sources cannot be carried based on the prohibition in the cabin and thatΒ  under Dangerous Goods provisions prohibit them being carried in the hold.

That said, having a device with a Lithium battery in the aircraft hold whilst possible is becoming less and less preferred especially based on the risks the bring to aircraft – serious enough to stop individually packed lithium-ion batteries globally last year.

Why all this?

Security screening provides a strong deterrence and provides multiple layers of protection. Proactive research and intelligence by foreign security departments have suggested that such imminent threats are credible as news source CNN has detailed however the Trump administration appears to be taking a much harder line on such risks, considering events from last year highlight the potential exposure to threats from the Middle East.

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If the aircraft was higher, the impact may have been more severe.Β (Picture: Harun Maruf)

 

In February 2016, an explosion inside a Daallo Airlines (Flight D3159) Airbus A321 travelling from Somalia to Djibouti killed a man and tore a hole into the side of the fuselage. The device had been hidden inside a laptop inside carried by one of the passengers which CNN explains that the device had bypassed security. Al-shabab had claimed responsibility however the original plan was to fly on Turkish Airlines which had cancelled the original flight.

It’s interesting to note that all ports that connect Somalia to the United State appear on the device prohibition list; however it is likely that intelligence β€˜noise’ has triggered a policy action; which may be around for a period of time.

Given the lack of position change based on liquids, aerosols and gels on international flights that have existed for nearly a decade, and that a screening measures have traditionally been reactive, I would say that the Middle Eastern ports will be working harder to ensure their screening is at a level that satisfies the United States requirements which the UK and potentially Australia may piggyback on.

Airport format

Smaller point but Abu Dhabi has pre-clearance for US bound flights, which in turn arrive as β€˜domestic’ flights into the USA as screening and immigration is completed before making it onto the aircraft.

That said, airports can operate with arrivals and departures on separate or the same floor. Whilst the actual exposure to any varies, it’s final screening which determines the effectiveness of any controls.

Other thoughts

More thoughts on this nonsensical electronics ban’ on One Mile at a Time and (how I briefly touched on above) the safety implications whilst carrying batteries on Runway Girl Network.

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