Laptop Ban on Flights: All you need to know

In an sudden move,  and effective from 25th March, 2017, the US and UK have issued a ban on carrying laptops and other e-devices in your carry-on luggage for flights originating from certain airports. That means, every time you fly to US or UK from these specified airports, you will not be allowed to take your laptop and other 3-devices in your carry-on luggage and will have to check them in.

According to the official statement of the US government personal electronics larger than cellphones will be banned indefinitely in the cabins of certain flights to the U.S from Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, including one of the busiest airports in the world- Dubai International Airport. Soon after US announced this restriction, UK followed suit with a similar ban but from 6 airports.

While most of the selected airports are far away from India, this ban may still impact your travels. Read on:

Which airports are affected?

You cannot carry your laptop in the flight If you are flying to the US from:

  • Queen Alia International, Amman, Jordan
  • Cairo International Airport, Egypt
  • Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
  • King Abdulaziz International, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • King Khalid International, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • Kuwait International Airport
  • Mohammed V International, Casablanca, Morocco
  • Hamad International, Doha, Qatar
  • Dubai International, United Arab Emirates
  • Abu Dhabi International, United Arab Emirates

For UK-bound travellers, all flights coming from:

  • Turkey
  • Lebanon
  • Jordan
  • Egypt
  • Tunisia
  • Saudi Arabia

will be affected by the ban.

However, the ban does not apply when flying from the US to any of these countries.

Why these airports?

As per the statement from the US Department of Homeland Security the affected airports and airlines were selected “based on the current threat picture.” They also cited past cases where such gadgets were used to trigger and carry terrorist intentions. Explosives are easier to spot in checked luggage because the screening process relies on explosive detection systems, which can be more thorough than the standard x-ray machine used at the carry-on security checkpoint, said a professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

What about connecting flights?

Most flights to US and even UK from Asia or the sub-continent make a transit at Dubai or any other Middle East airport. And that is where it will hurt. So if you change planes at one of the affected airports for the last leg of your trip, the ban will affect you too. Be prepared to cover the Dubai to New York leg of your journey without your laptop, tablet or even e-reader.

What exactly is banned?

Infographic Credit:

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) gave a list of examples, but said it was not exhaustive:

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

Smartphones will be allowed, and US Homeland Security says “approved medical devices may be brought into the cabin after additional screening.” The UK has offered clearer parameters: nothing bigger than 16 cm (6.3ins) long, 9.3cm (3.6ins) wide or 1.5cm (0.6 in) deep will be allowed into the cabin – which means mobiles like the larger iPhone Plus still qualifies.

So can these be checked instead?

While conventionally, we have always been advised not to carry expensive and fragile items in check-in luggage to protect against theft or damage while handling. But, with this ban, it seems like there is little choice for many travellers. Be prepared to pack these items in appropriate check-in bags.

Is there a way out?

All the listed airports are obliged to abide by the restriction as part of the legal agreements that allow commercial airlines to enter US airspace. The UK government also says that direct flights can only “continue to operate to the UK subject to these new measures being in place”.

As an estimate, about 50 flights to US will be affected by this ban including airlines like Royal Jordanian, EgyptAir, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways. While the UK ban will impact flights of British Airways and EasyJet flying into the UK from Middle Eastern airports. 

Thus, if you need to work on your laptop while flying to the US/UK, either chose a direct flight from India or chose an airline that does not halt at the specified airports.

At this time, it is unclear whether other countries will follow or other airports will be added to the list. So, do check with the airline you are flying with on any restrictions that may apply on carry on bags.

Undoubtedly, there will be some confusion and a lot of pain for travellers because of this ban. A balm, perhaps, for you may be that at Bragpacker, you can rent your luggage needs and avoid investing in expensive bags for this hopefully, transient period.


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