It Looks Like A Widespread In-Flight Electronics Ban Is About To Be Implemented…

Update, 6AM Tuesday — Further details have been announced by DHS, please read this post for more information.

Update, 10PM Eastern — The Associated Press is reporting the electronics ban will apply to flights from Amman, Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Casablanca, Dubai, Doha, Istanbul, Jeddah, Kuwait City, and Riyadh. Developing.

Update, 6PM Eastern — Royal Jordanian has removed their notices from social media, but Saudia has posted a similar message (only in Arabic thus far). The notice states that larger personal electronics must now be checked on flights to the United States. We’ll post further updates as they become available, but in the meantime see our thoughts about the logic behind this directive.


Oh my, this is about to get interesting…

A couple of hours ago, Royal Jordanian announced that they are banning electronics from the cabins of their flights to/from the U.S. With the exception of cell phones and medical devices, all other electronics need to be checked in the cargo hold.

Electronics-Ban

At first I assumed they horribly misinterpreted some directive, or something. To me it seems highly illogical to want passengers to check electronics. If there’s some threat of terrorism or a safety concern, then I didn’t really understand how requiring passengers to check electronics would help.

Historically many explosives have been in the cargo hold rather than in the cabin. That’s just me talking out loud based on my understanding of things, though of course I’m no security expert — I’m sure there’s logic behind this, and they’re going off some specific intelligence.

However, it looks like Royal Jordanian was onto something, and we’re about to see a widespread electronics ban. The details are still emerging, but I’ve been seeing lots of references to 13 countries having to implement a ban on electronics.

This has also been confirmed by a Saudi executive on Twitter:

It sounds like passengers originating in 13 countries will soon have a very rough travel experience. While I think we can all speculate as to what some of those countries are, we haven’t yet received any official confirmation.

This story is very much still developing. However, what seems certain is that Royal Jordanian wasn’t misinterpreting some policy, but rather there’s some intelligence that’s about to change travel for a lot of people.

Comments

  1. “Intelligence” is probably not the right word here (either meaning). Nonsensical racism to keep the base happy, more likely.

  2. Ben:

    How do you see this impacting your future travel plans, since I know you often travel HLO, and you like to work while flying.

    Will you be re-evaulating which airlines you fly, or which countries you will be visiting?

  3. @keitherson: not sure why he owes them an apology? His previous post expressed surprise just many people must be feeling now and merely posed questions about this announcement that many of us are asking…

  4. I can come up with 11….wonder who the last one is…

    RJ
    Emirates
    Etihad
    Saudia
    Kenya
    Turkish
    Egyptair
    Maroc
    Kenya
    Kuwait
    Qatar

  5. Is the TSA worried about possible hacking into flight computers during flight? Although I am sure this is possible with a cell phone.

  6. I’m going with the theory that customs is about to start inspecting/searching all electronics coming in from these countries (that just happen to be majority Muslim). Customs wants to limit the number of items they have to search.

  7. I really don’t think their going to be tough on this, I mean if a child brings a iPad on the plane to watch like Mickey Mouse or some show to keep them entertained, I doubt they’ll require them to check it.. I will say I’ve never traveled internationally so I don’t know how strict they can be with these things, but I’m sure as long as your not obvious with holding your laptop or bringing in your multi power supply laptop in your checked bag, I’m sure it’s fine. If you bring your electronics in a back pack and act you like you don’t know what’s going on, I’m pretty sure they’ll let you use your iPad and laptop on the plane as long as you’re not stupid with it. Again, I’ve never travelled internationally but from life experience, employees will let you do whatever you want as long as you don’t make their job harder.

  8. I don’t get why they wouldn’t add cellphones to this list. Most smartphones have exactly comparable capabilities to a tablet. It’s sort of like saying you can bring a taser on board, but not any other weapon!

  9. So much for personal device entertainment. I’m not streaming a movie on my phone for 2 hours.

    Is this a hidden part of the executive order?

  10. @Greg – I’ve read stations with pre-clearance are exempted – so Etihad would not be affected.

  11. the trait of this country is to not go after the original offender/originator but blame either the victim or the successor to originator. it’s a sad truth.

  12. @ Faris Nasir, thats not how these things work. If US CBP say no technology allowed, you can be sure it will be rigidly enforced (especially by current administration). Things like ‘I forgot’ will mark you out for secondary screening or worse.

  13. So l guess this means stringent secondary screening (much more than the spot checks already in place) at the gate in the affected countries? Or the main screening area will have to somehow segregate US bound passengers from others. Take about a logistical nightmare.

  14. I wonder if this goes along the lines of the newest directive I heard on recent flights to and from Amsterdam where; during flights to and from America, passengers were not allowed to congregate in groups in the aisles.

    Has anyone else noticed that announcement recently as well? I flew on round trip on KLM.

  15. I’m wondering how this would improve safety. IMHO anything with a lithium battery should actually be banned from the cargo hold…

  16. In the WORLD of the FUTURE…..

    We will be whisked along conveyer belts directly into the plane. No luggage of any type allowed, mail to destination or buy a selection of tailored Arrival Packages before exiting the airport. Passengers will be naked except for an adult diaper and needed supportive devices/garments.

    You will be strapped into your seat, and a cranial port cable connected to allow you experience all needed stimulation and infotainment, for a nominal fee. In this way lavatories can be reduced to one for contingencies, and a robot or hologram to serve as emergency flight attendant.

    Planes will of course be entirely automated.

    I give you the FUTURE ladies and gentleman!

  17. @Dave: Sadly, it’s probably not. This crap has been going on long before Trump or Obama was in office.

    Still not hearing anything about this from friends at various US airlines.

  18. @Vicente: You won’t be allowed to wear a diaper either…and the airlines/TSA/DHS being their thoughtful selves will expect you to sit in the filth left by the previous passenger.

  19. First of all, my laptop is not going to be thrown around in a cargo hold of an airplane and subjected to freezing temperature. Secondly, all of our electronics have batteries that can’t be put in the cargo hold.

    WTF?!?!

  20. Mr @Robert Schrader, are you trolling or always have intelligent meaningfully informative comments like this? He is an elected person and president till he is impeached. By the way. Come over. I’m lining my butthole for you.

  21. How will they enforce this? Specially if someone is doing an airside transfer on separate ticket. E.g. Fly in DXB on some budget airline, then catch DXB to US on Emirates separate ticket.

  22. Sorry, but I don’t want to be lectured on “respecting the President” by people who hurled racist epithets at our last president, and who questioned his citizenship.

  23. Would this just be limited to passengers? When it’s not available, I know some carriers provide tablets to passengers as a substitute for IFE.

  24. Soory if somebody has already made this comment, but what the heck does that mean for those of us who do not check bags?

  25. Looks like trump is back at it again! Will someone pls remove him from office before travel becomes absolute torture??

  26. let say you travel from saudi to london and then onto US on a separate ticket? How is that going to stop anything realistically? If an explosive device is disguised as a laptop and it must be checked coz normal screening won’t detect it, then if you travel from somewhere else with the same device, it is still not going to be stopped isn’t it? fgs what a dumb rule design solely to cause inconvenience.

  27. Any verified source of intel beside the original announcement from Royal Jordanian Airlines?

    As far as I am concerned,I do not think Twitter is a valid source of intel.

  28. My bet is there will be lots of $2,000 insurance claims for Apple laptops forced to endure the cargo experience. Whoever Chase, et al, use for travel insurance is going to get very busy

  29. Sounds like business class is going to get a lot less expensive on these airlines. I wonder if this is more about protectionism than any real security threat? This sounds more to me like a way to protect U.S. carriers from foreign competition than anything else.

  30. You millennial cry babies can’t even get a long without your electronic toys for a few hours? Come on, grow up!

  31. @Steffinihos I can go on a flight easily without using my electronics/cameras however I don’t want them damaged or stolen which is much more likely if they are checked. Additionally I don’t check baggage normally when flying on vacation (except in rare instances) so now I’d be forced to carry two bags. Except in the end I’d like route around this whole issue by not flying direct.

  32. For me, long haul business class flights are extremely productive as it is an opportunity to get work done uninterrupted. I now have two choices 1). Avoid direct flights to North America from the selected countries or 2). Pad and pen.

    Etcha Sketch maybe?

  33. Absolutely amazing the number of comments attacking the US administration without any concrete evidence to support the claims. It truly makes we wonder the level of maturity of some of the posters.

  34. @Greg Thanks for the link above.

    ABC News reporting it’s related to laptop bombs like the one on Somalia a while back. I don’t understand why such a device in cargo would be any less dangerous. And given all of the accidents that have occurred due to batteries in cargo it is a bit surprising to me that they are telling people to put these devices in checked baggage.

  35. This seems like a clever way to fight against the ME3. There are very few flights by US carriers to/from the countries that are likely to be on this list. Just like the muslim ban, this action probably doesn’t actually help prevent a terror attack, but it will hurt airlines that fly to these countries. This is probably a feature rather than a glitch of the order. I wonder if we will find out in a few years that this ban was suggested by a US airline lobbyist.

  36. @Does Airline Safety Matter?

    I actually agree with you to a point however this administration has not exactly excelled as smooth well thought out policy implementations so one tends to be suspicious especially when this seems to align with some of their other policy imperatives that were rushed and seemingly targeted the same part of the world. I’ll reserve judgement until tomorrow when an announcement is supposed to be made but yeah I am a bit suspicious.

  37. World leaders continue to stare
    At the man with the ludicrous hair:
    They find it bewild’rin’
    That refugee children
    Give Trump such a pants-wetting scare.
    ―Will T. Laughlin

  38. @Faris Nasir

    Don’t mean to be rude, but you probably should’ve taken an international flight before making such a comment. Govts are ridiculously paranoid.

    @Steffinihos

    For a lot of business travellers, electronics are how work gets done. Just because you’re some 60-year-old still working minimum wage in a flyover country shithole doesn’t mean everyone’s experience conforms to years.

    @Does Airline Safety Matter?

    Because the Trump admin has had a great record in implementing ridiculous EOs and security orders. Yeah, right.

  39. To all people asking how this could be enforced when in transit and flying on different tickets, it’s simple. They will check carry ons at the gate. I’ve had mine checked in Lisbon when going to EWR on a couple of ocasions.

  40. I don’t care if I can’t use my laptop on a plane. In fact I never have. Perfectly happy to be told I can’t take it out or use it, which is how it is at takeoff and landing anyway,

    But having to check a bag is a pain because I almost never do.

  41. Looks like it will include Arik Air from Lagos, possibly South African from Dakar, Ethiopian from Lome and Azerbaijan from Baku and maybe even delta from Dakar.

  42. I would be interested if precleared EY flights at AUH will be affected, as the screening is DHS\TSA approved.

  43. @ tony kline — It looks like it will be 9 carriers. The Associated Press is reporting the electronics ban will apply to flights from Amman, Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Casablanca, Dubai, Doha, Istanbul, Jeddah, Kuwait City, and Riyadh.

  44. Thank you Tiffany for the update!
    There is far too much political whining going on this website as of late.
    I would be the last person in the world to defend the jackass in the White House but, unless he has stock in Royal Jordanian airlines that has yet to be disclosed, this one can’t be hung on him!
    Raksiam above, gave the account of the reason accurately.
    Moral to the story, don’t fly Royal Jordanian or leave the electronics home! (Obviously there are too many readers who lack the ability to think outside the box.)

  45. So, those of us in the real world, who aren’t flying into or out of USA, can have a relaxing time of it. No jazz hands/comb over presidents down under.

  46. Start shopping for iPads, Laptops, and cameras @ Unclaimed baggage soon!. Must be paranoid Trump.

  47. Start shopping for iPads, Laptops, and cameras @ Unclaimed baggage soon!. Must be paranoid senile Trump.

  48. When I travel, I usually have a cadre of photo equipment with me. The most expensive pieces stay with me. If some airline wants me to put $5k + of camera equipment in the hold, I will simply not fly them. The last thing I need is a bunch of broken lens glass awaiting me at the baggage carousel.

  49. @Chris Jensen
    “If some airline wants me to put $5k + of camera equipment in the hold, I will simply not fly them”

    You do realise that the airlines don’t want this? It’s US government agencies making them do it. You’re blaming the wrong people.

  50. This really reeks of Washington trying to hurt the ME3. I’m sure the government in the UAE will raise hell about this latest stupidity.

  51. I rather be safe than sorry and I work for an airline. My phone is good quality entertainment and I can send my emails and work all the same. Nobody listened when US intelligence warned the nightclub about a possible New Year’s Eve bomb and look what happened! This is temporary until whatever threat has passed. As to those saying how come is carriers aren’t affected it is because the notice is for carriers who have NONSTOP/DIRECT flights from those cities to the US…no is carrier serves the Middle East, they pulled out. I do not like Trump but this has nothing to do with him…furthermore in those countries you must abide by their rules or find yourself in jail…abide by ours too, we still have the right to protect our country.

  52. @Stacey: the doctrine of “better safe than sorry” has been used to justify all kinds of injustices, as I’m sure you are well aware. *You* might be comfortable using a phone for a 15 hour flight, but many business executives need their laptops in the air in order to prepare for meetings. Dubai and Abu Dhabi have become major hubs for people travelling from Asia or Africa to the U.S. Simply saying “suck it up, or don’t come to our country” is short-sighted.

  53. Agreed and it is even more than just using the device in-flight. The risk of theft and damage is exponentially higher in the hold than with carry-on. Also this practice seems to run counter to the practice of not checking lithium ion batteries so even if we are reducing one risk we might be increasing another. So far I am not impressed with what the government has released to support this and it will be interesting to see if any other countries follow suit (which I take as a surrogate of how good the intel actually is). Having departed from several of the targeted countries in the past year if anything they seemed to take security more seriously than in the US. I have been subjected to random secondary screening while boarding several times from these countries but never in the US for example (I have also been subjected to it in Europe).

  54. Shit. The intelligence agencies are really pissed with Trump. They are making him look like a fool by coming up with idiotic suggestions and having him sign off on them. The deep state is really difficult to change. Its like the first travel ban. DHS officers knew if they only turned back tourist visa folks it would not cause too much of an uproar. So they interpreted the order in the worst possible way and turned away Greencard holders, doctors, university students so that the outrage generated would undermine the order. Trump cant win – the existing stakeholders dont agree with his agenda and those who agree with his agenda – the rural poor- have very little real power in the world. After all the President is just one man. If people on the ground dont listen to his orders or misinterpret them deliberately he cant change squat.

  55. What will this mean for folks say traveling from India to US connecting in Dubai. Will they have to check in laptops in India or they will be allowed to carry their laptops in cabin luggage. If the intelligence is about something from these airports than it makes sense to let connecting passengers carry their laptops. of course how do you differentiate between people boarding in Dubai vs those connecting in Dubai. If you dont then say someone going from India to US will be able to carry their laptop with them if they connect in Europe or Asia but not if they connect in the Middle East. This will drive traffic away from the ME3. As the ME3 basically survive on Indian traffice (their own population and economy are both too small) if Indian connecting traffic moves away from ME3 the ME3 will go bankrupt (or the equivalent for state owned firms).
    This looks more like an economic attack on the ME3 than anything else.

  56. @Endre yeah but there are some significant differences between US and UK lists for example Doha/Abu Dhabi/Dubai are not on the UK list so while there clearly does seem to be some intel behind this it is also not clear there isn’t some other considerations also going on.

  57. This is crazy. (so, in other words, another day at the office for Trump). How is the laptop any safer in the cargo hold? Bombs in cargo holds have brought down airliners before. What’s to stop a would-be terrorist from carrying his laptop on a flight from some other airport, like Logan or Heathrow? And who in their right mind would put expensive laptops and DSLRs in checked luggage? They grow legs there.

  58. This smells like economic protectionism to me disguised as a concern for security. I am not a security expert but a frequent international traveler to one of those destinations in particular, Istanbul. I do not see how a checked laptop makes it safer than carrying it with you into the cabin. Carry-ons pass through two x-rays at Istanbul airport and then you are subject to special screening for US bound flights, which almost always include the special security personnel asking you to turn on your device. If they were really concerned about screening procedures they could easily improve that to eliminate the ‘special’ threat, whatever the intelligence has provided. I think it smells like protectionism because, especially Istanbul and Dubai are emerging as important hubs with expanding transit passenger traffic, especially for business travelers. So, targeting Emirates and Turkish Airlines is a great way to start to deliver on the promise made by Trump to American airline companies (https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-03-21/the-laptop-ban-and-what-it-means-for-air-travel-quicktake-q-a). If it is, it shows another low for this administration, to use ‘fake’ terror threats to provide political/economic rents to certain constituents. Of course, there is always another possibility, a backdoor to Muslim Ban. These airlines are deriving the traffic from the majority Muslim countries into the U.S., so creating any inconvenience will go a long way too.

  59. It’s good that they’ve done this, because terrorists would never think to put their explosive laptop in the car and drive to Oman or Bahrain to catch an infidel flight where they can take it on board, eh?

  60. Better start checking which cards provide the best protection for when something gets broken or stolen from your checked baggage. If it can happen in the US, it sure as hell can happen in a 3rd world country.

  61. For those doing DOH-BAH-LHR, it will be quite galling to sit there in Bahrain while everyone cracks open their laptops and tablets after take-off to London.

    I wonder how many will actually clear immigration in Bahrain just so that they can get their gear out of their suitcase and put it back into their hand luggage?

    🙂

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