by Mark Isaiah David
Recently, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) declared an ordinance forbidding ‘large electronic items’ from carry-on luggage on certain airlines coming from certain countries travelling to the US.
The interdiction was met with a lot of confusion and frustration. Travelling is stressful enough, after all, and now, it looks like we won’t even be able to while away the hours by playing Zelda: Breath of the Wild using our Nintendo Switch.
If you’ll be travelling to the US, here’s what you need to know regarding the new electronic device ban:
WHICH DEVICES ARE BANNED?
Anything larger than a smartphone is banned. This includes laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, game consoles bigger than a smartphone, and travel printers/scanners. If you need to bring these items, you need to stow them at your checked luggage.
This, of course, exposes your devices to accidental damage or even theft. Before you pack your devices, consider the dangers accordingly. You could also check with your airline to see what measures you can employ to minimize risks.
Smartphone sizes are variable, but the TSA folks understand that. Also, the ban didn’t specify that you can’t bring more than one smartphone with you.
The reason for all this brouhaha? The Trump administration stated that they have intelligence indicating that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is developing a bomb that can be hidden in portable electronics.
WHICH FLIGHTS ARE AFFECTED?
The new prohibition applies to specific airlines, which are:
- Egypt Air
- Emirates Airlines
- Etihad Airways
- Kuwait Airways
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Air Maroc
- Royal Jordanian
- Saudia Airlines
- Turkish Airlines
Aside from identifying specific airlines, the ban also applies to specific international airports. Even if you weren’t on an airline included in the interdict, if you were coming from the stipulated airports (even if you were just in a connecting flight), you’re still affected. Here are the identified airports:
- Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- Ataturk International Airport (IST) in Istanbul, Turkey
- Cairo International Airport (CAI) in Cairo, Egypt
- Dubai International Airport (DXB) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- Hamad International Airport (DOH) in Doha, Qatar
- King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
- King Khalid International Airport (RUH) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
- Kuwait International Airport (KWI) in Farwaniya, Kuwait
- Mohammed V Airport (CMN) in Casablanca, Morocco
- Queen Alia International Airport (AMM) in Amman, Jordan
The list of airports may change according to intelligence gathered by the US. Domestic travel inside the US and international flights commencing from the US are not affected.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?
The UK followed the US lead, with a few changes. UK airlines affected by the ban include:
- British Airways
- Thomas Cook
Here are the overseas airlines affected by the ban:
- Atlas-Global Airlines
- Middle East Airlines
- Pegasus Airways
- Royal Jordanian,
- Tunis Air
- Turkish Airlines
DHS spokesperson David Lapan clarified that the ban runs until Oct. 14 – but it could be extended “should the evaluation of the threat remain the same.” Flight crew members are excluded from the ban.
While it is always prudent to follow travel safety guidelines, the new rule has some security experts confused. The Washington Post (TWP) talked to a security expert who voiced his misgivings. “Why should I feel safer if the laptop is stowed in the belly of the plane and the perpetrator can (still) use his iPhone to set if off?”
Others speculate that the ban may have been made more for economic reasons than security. Henry Farrell and Abraham Newman, professors at George Washington University, wrote in TWP, “Three of the airlines that have been targeted for these measures — Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways — have long been accused by their US competitors of receiving massive effective subsidies from their governments. These airlines have been quietly worried for months that President Trump was going to retaliate. This may be the retaliation.” Moreover, as executives and professionals may feel that the considerable time where their work laptops and electronics are kept from them, the ban could push valuable business class customers to switch to US airlines.