In a precautionary effort to bolster airline security, the U.S. government has imposed an indefinite electronics ban on all passengers travelling on direct flights from the Middle East and North Africa to the U.S.
The ban went into effect as of today, Mar.21, however the ban was originally announced a few weeks ago to go into effect Mar. 24.
The reason and timing for the ban was unspecified. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security explained on their website the reason for the ban was based on new intelligence, as well as a continual assessment and evaluation of the threat environment. Airlines affected by the ban have 96 hours to comply or will be barred from flying into the U.S.
What electronics devices are and aren’t allowed
Cell phones, smartphones, as well as approved medical devices may require additional screening but are allowed onboard in the cabin. According to the Department of Homeland Security website, the “TSA [Transportation Security Administration] seeks to balance risk with impacts to the traveling public and has determined that cell phones and smartphones will be allowed in accessible property at this time.”
Electronic devices larger than a cell phone must be secured in the checked luggage hold, and include, but are not limited to:
–portable DVD players
–electronic game units larger than a smartphone
Dimensions of electronic devices that measure “larger than a cell phone” are decided at the discretion by each airline affected by the ban. Egypt Air released its specific dimensions of what measures larger than a cell phone, which are 16 cm x 9.3 cm x 1.5 cm.
Lithium batteries in checked luggage should not be transported in the luggage hold of an aircraft. Individual airlines should be contacted for more information.
What airlines are affected
Royal Jordanian Airlines, Egypt Air, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates, and Etihad Airways.
What countries and airports are included in the ban
Flights to the United States from these 10 international airports are affected by the electronics ban:
Amman, Jordan Queen Alia International Airport (AMM)
Cairo, Egypt Cairo International Airport (CAI)
Istanbul, Turkey Ataturk International Airport (IST)
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED)
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia King Khalid International Airport (RUH)
Kuwait City, Kuwait Kuwait International Airport (KWI)
Casablanca, Morocco Mohammed V Airport (CMN)
Doha, Qatar Hamad International Airport (DOH)
Dubai, United Arab Emirates Dubai International Airport (DXB)
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)
Following the lead of the United States?
Great Britain followed suit with a similar ban which applies to domestic and foreign inbound flights coming from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Turkey. But unlike the U.S., the British ban applies to all electronic devices, including cell phones.
Canada’s transport minister Marc Garneau said the federal government will take a close look at the circumstances behind the U.S. and Great Britain bans to “expeditiously” decide if Canada will follow lead, according to the Canadian Press.