U.S. Bans Most Electronic Devices on Flights from 8 Muslim Countries*
They are not the same nations targeted in the failed “Muslim Ban.”
By Kenrya Rankin
Less than a week after two federal courts blocked the Trump Administration’s second attempt at restricting entry to the United States for the nationals of six predominately Muslim countries, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a mandate that regulates the travel of people from another set of mostly Muslim countries.
As of today (March 21), people flying into the U.S. on direct flights from 10 airports in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates must check electronic devices larger than a phone—including tablets, laptops, e-readers, cameras, gaming devices and portable DVD players—before boarding. Travelers will still be allowed to carry smartphones and essential medical devices on board. The eight countries are different from the ones targeted in the “Muslim Ban.”
Per CNN, the impacted airlines are Egyptair, Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, Kuwait Airways, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Turkish Airlines. U.S. officials said that no U.S. carriers are included in the indefinite ban because they do not fly directly to the States from the impacted airports. The carriers have 96 hours to comply, or they risk losing permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly into the country. The rule will be “reviewed” on October 14.
CNN reports that officials say there is no specific terrorist plot that they are trying to thwart, but that: “the move is partly based on intelligence that they believe indicates Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is close to being able to hide explosives with little or no metal content in electronic devices in order to target commercial aircraft.”
Reuters reports that on a press conference call, DHS spokesperson Gillian Christensen said the agency “did not target specific nations. We relied upon evaluated intelligence to determine which airports were affected.”
U.K. joins U.S. electronics ban on flights from several Middle East, African countries
U.K joined the U.S large electronics ban on some flights from Middle East and African countries. The U,K has announced a cabin baggage ban on laptops on passenger flights from six Middle East and North African countries.
According to a statement issued by the U.K government:
Phones, laptops and tablets larger than 16.0cm x 9.3cm x 1.5cm not allowed in the cabin on flights to the U.K. from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tunisia.
KTG understands that the U.K. ban will affect also the British Airways.
The U.K. restrictions, which also apply to tablets, DVD players, portable game consoles and phones over certain size, come after a similar U.S. Department of Homeland Security ban.
Passengers will not be able to fly from these countries with phones, laptops, tablets larger than 16cm in length, 9.3cm width & 1.5cm depth.
— Jack Moore (@JFXM) March 21, 2017
Flights on nine airlines from 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries are subject to the U.S. move.
U.S. officials said bombs could be hidden in a series of devices.
The ban affects large electronic devices including laptops, tablets and DVD players. They would not be permitted in aircraft cabins but would be allowed in checked baggage.
Phones are exempt from the U.S. restrictions.
Passengers on some 50 flights a day from some of the busiest hubs in the Middle East, Turkey and North Africa would be required to follow the new U.S. rules.
The airlines affected by the ban are:
Royal Jordanian, Egypt Air, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways.
They have been given 96 hours, beginning at 07:00 GMT on Tuesday, to ban devices bigger than a mobile phone or smartphone from cabins, US officials said, adding that the ban had no end date.
According to BBC, the U.K. announcement and would affect direct flights from several Middle East cities. The BBC home affairs correspondent said that the move was “obviously part of co-ordinated action with the U.S.”.
The Department of Homeland Security said extremists were seeking “innovative methods” to bring down jets.
The attempted downing of an airliner in Somalia last year was linked to a laptop device, and it appears the security precautions are an attempt to stop similar incidents.
Turkey seeks reversal of laptop ban
The Turkish government has said the U.S. ban is wrong and should be reversed.
Turkey said Tuesday it would ask the United States to reverse a ban on electronic devices larger than mobile phones in the cabin of flights from 10 airports in Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa.
“We particularly emphasise how this will not benefit the passenger and that reverse steps or a softening should be adopted,” Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan told reporters, saying the decision was not right for Turkey or the US.
Airlines hit by the ban include flag-carrier Turkish Airlines, which has the highest foreign sales of any Turkish company. The airline’s profits have already been hit by a slew of terror attacks in Turkey in 2016.
Arslan said Turkish officials were speaking to their relevant American counterparts regarding the ban, which applies to direct flights to the US.
The minister said he hoped there would be a “positive” outcome from the talks, which began Monday.
“Annually, 80 million flights take off from Istanbul and in my opinion, people should not confuse it” with less high-profile destinations, Arslan added.
“In that sense, we already take all kinds of security measures.”
Arslan said that passengers head to the U.S. for many reasons including developing bilateral trade, adding that the ruling could negatively affect travellers’ comfort.
— George Robert (@mertennikell) March 21, 2017
Of course, many now wonder why the ban affects few selected countries and airlines and it is not global.
Experts say the new electronics ban seem illogical and at odds with basic computer science.
The ban affects flight to US and UK not the other way around.
As if a terrorist would not think to fly X airline from a high risk country to an A city, buy a laptop there and catch a flight to the high security countries.
The economic impact on the travel business will be immense. Sounds rather like an airlines war, imho.