WHOA: UK To Implement A DIFFERENT Electronics Ban

A few hours ago it was rumored that the UK was also considering an in-flight electronics ban.

As we’ve written about extensively, the U.S. has announced a ban on electronics for flights originating in the Middle East and Africa. The ban applies for flights originating in Amman, Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Casablanca, Dubai, Doha, Istanbul, Jeddah, Kuwait City, and Riyadh. Passengers on nonstop flights originating from those cities to the U.S. need to check all electronics into the cargo hold, with the exception of cell phones and medical devices.

SkyNews is reporting that the UK government is indeed implementing new restrictions, though the details (and countries included) are rather different from the US directive.

The country list consists of direct flights to the UK from:

  • Egypt (also on U.S. list)
  • Jordan (also on U.S. list)
  • Lebanon (no flights to U.S.)
  • Tunisia (no flights to U.S)
  • Turkey (also on U.S. list)
  • Saudi Arabia (also on U.S. list)

If accurate, the overlap (and lack of overlap) is interesting. The UK restrictions will not apply to flights from Abu Dhabi, Doha, Dubai, Kuwait City, or Casablanca, as a start. That raises even more questions in my mind as to the implementation of the US directive. If UK and US agencies are acting off of shared/FVEY intelligence, why would the countries not match up?

As it is, these restrictions apply to all flights between these countries and the UK, which would impact eight UK airlines, and six international airlines. The UK directive seems to also specify sizes of devices rather than type:

There is no word yet on whether other “large” electronic items like cameras will be prohibited from cabin baggage on UK flights.

At this point there are still a lot more questions than answers. I think it’s important to reiterate that no one here has questioned whether or not there is intelligence suggesting a need for further scrutiny in some areas (though the DHS notice does cite continuing analysis rather than new information).

Rather, our questions surround the fact that the restrictions being implemented don’t seem to make sense as preventative security measures.

If the concerns are over proper screening or infiltrated baggage staff it could instead, for example, make sense to have additional device and passenger screening on the jet bridge versus separating passengers from suspicious items. If the concern is a Somalia-type explosive device, how is it safer to have that in the cargo department? How is a cell-phone okay, but an e-reader isn’t?

And why does the UK think it’s fine to have electronics on direct flights from Abu Dhabi, regardless of carrier, but the U.S. won’t accept passenger electronics on Pre-Cleared flights from the same airport?

I don’t expect that we’ll get answers to these questions, necessarily, but I think it’s fair to ask them.

More info as this develops, and once the dust settles we’ll have tips on how to adjust plans around these new requirements. Air travel is about to get very interesting, it seems.

Comments

  1. At least with this announcement we can discount legacy carriers trying to get one over on the ME 3. To that extent, it does leave the US looking a bit exposed.

  2. Not so bad then! My wife was a little worried about flying back to the UK next week with a 1 & 3 year old without the much needed entertainment!

  3. I’m not sure why you harp on pre-cleared flights and not pre-cleared flights. Just because passengers have been processed for customs and immigration purposes by CBP does not truly relate to whether they pose a threat to aviation security. Checking names against databases and normal security screening is the same whether or not pre-clearance is conducted.

  4. Really tired of libertarian Americans grasping onto a conspiracy theory that this is a political ruse by US carriers to keep the ME3 down. Get a grip.

  5. With the exclusion of UAE & Qatar I’m almost 100% certain that the reason the US list included them was a push by the legacy US carriers (especially with all the pushback the legacy carries have done against the ME3 in recent days).

  6. This shitshow is getting better drama than the Real Housewifes of Orange County 🙂

    Assuming the real cause of the ban is indeed security: in my humble opinion, terrorists will always be 1 step ahead of counter intelligence and security forces.

  7. From Reuters:

    “Our information indicates that terrorist groups’ efforts to execute an attack against the aviation sector are intensifying.”

    “While Democrats have criticized the Republican Trump’s travel ban, Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence committee said he backed the new precautions.”

    “A U.S. government source said that while the restrictions arose from multiple reports of security threats, some very recent intelligence had arrived which helped to trigger the timing of the current alert.”

  8. So, if we’re worried about electronic devices hiding explosives – how is such an explosive device preferable in the cargo bay versus in the passenger’s lap? This sounds like the typically stupid reaction/overreaction to something that someone heard. It defies logic.

    Cut the PC crap and concentrate on people and not things.

  9. By the sounds of it, there has been a major intelligence warning with concerns that the hand luggage scanners aren’t sufficient. I was skeptical of the US ban, but the UK being added to the list makes this sound like there’s actually something going on. Most people aren’t going to put their laptops, etc. in the hold — fewer items to examine?

  10. @keitherson I’m tired of clueless people of all sorts who don’t understand what or who libertarians are, yet make sweeping and generalized statements about conspiracies they supposedly propagate and grasp upon.

  11. The issue with the US ban is it really seemed to focus on places whose inclusion would not hurt US airlines. The British version leaves off Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dubai, which all have much more of a presence from UK based carriers and would be more costly for the UK to include.

    Also, there is the whole issue of transfer passengers. If a passenger clears customs in Dubai then transfers to another flight in Amsterdam or Paris, why is his laptop fine when it would not be if he flew direct from Dubai to NYC. If they are serious about this there needs to be a complete ban on transit passengers that don’t reclear security before flying to USA

  12. @dan
    “The British version leaves off Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dubai, which all have much more of a presence from UK based carriers and would be more costly for the UK to include.”

    What?

    So the US is implementing this stuff against airports where NO US carriers fly.

    The U.K. is implementing it at airports where lots of British carriers fly.

    But you think the UK hasn’t included the home hubs of the ME3 because it would be “too costly” for Britain??

    And this isn’t at all about the US legacy carriers getting some payback against the ME3???

    I suspect we’re about to see more EU countries implement similar measures. Canada is already following suit.

  13. @Lucky and others: Not sure if its been commented on but doesn’t checked in luggage have the possibility to be sent through a CT scanner vs a regular x-ray machine (there is a definite degree of capability between the two systems). I’m just not sure if the countries listed/airports identified have these systems in fully in place or high speed CT systems (some of these can perform scans on 250-400 bags per hour).

  14. @T Preclearance is not just USCBP but also involves screening pax to US security standards. This is why precleared flights can arrive as domestic flights into US terminals and passengers who are connecting to domestic flights do not need to reclear security at their port of first entry. The idea is that someone who boards in AUH is screened to the same US standard as say someone who originates at any other US airport.

  15. “So, if we’re worried about electronic devices hiding explosives – how is such an explosive device preferable in the cargo bay versus in the passenger’s lap? This sounds like the typically stupid reaction/overreaction to something that someone heard. It defies logic.”

    This bears repeating, so I repeated it.

    Security theater. That’s all this is, just like the shoe removal nonsense, the tiny liquid fetish, and the nude-o-scopes. If a terrorist group posted a screed about how they are going to build bombs out of their beard combs, all of a sudden the TSA would ban combs from flights for the next 25 years. And the public would *feel* so much safer.

  16. Speedbird please delete your account, you offer nothing… No less than nothing.

    Anyone complaining over their slight inconvenience better take a step back and think about the safety of others for a moment.

    I will assume that the powers that be have my and others safety at the forefront of this decision. Not some harebrained scheme to stick it to another airline.

    Super easy for others to armchair quarterback this decision but I will take erring on the side of caution when lives could be at stake.

  17. “Fair to ask the question”… no it’s really not your business at all, what the reasons behind the ban are. Why should the government share to secret intel with the public? Next you’ll be asking for the president’s security details.
    It’s funny how now that the UK have also started a ban, suddenly, people aren’t mentioning any bias to the US carriers. Maybe the government were just looking out for the public, but as usual, the media and bloggers just want to create fuss for no reason

  18. The UK going along with this adds some credibility…BUT this seems like a half-assed way to go about it. If terrorists can detonate a simple radio bomb (Pan Am 103 / Lockerbie Scotland), they can much easier do a laptop or other electronic device today.

    Given the attempts over the past 15 or so years, the majors tried doing things in-cabin, which was caught due to it being in-cabin.

    No commercial airliner today is equipped with a way to take care of a lithium battery fire in the cargo hold. Given the incidents of lithium battery fires we’ve had onboard aircraft, I’d rather these devices be kept in the cabin where they can be dealt with early on.

  19. @Bill
    “It’s funny how now that the UK have also started a ban, suddenly, people aren’t mentioning any bias to the US carriers”

    Yes, I am.

    Or do you think it’s a coincidence that the UK hasn’t banned the ME Big 3, while US has?

    Same shared intelligence. Yet only the US targets Emirates, Etihad and Qatar.

    The three airlines its own legacy carriers loathe.

    What a coincidence.

  20. The US and UK have stopped being democracies for a while, now. For things like this:

    @Bill

    “it’s really not your business at all, what the reasons behind the ban are”

    Usually people called governments that didn’t give any reasons for their doings dictatorships. And this is what it is. The Donald and his inteligentsia team of Bannon, Pence, Preibus and who knows who else, are trying to see what they can accomplish before everyone realizes what is going on. It will take some time if people keep saying “it’s not our business to discuss that”.

    Kim Jong-Un must be so proud.

  21. Lets be real, this is what happened:

    The US/UK shared info on possible terrorist threats with on-board electronics from multiple countries. They had a preliminary list with most dangerous countries to least dangerous (red to yellow). Then, each country (US/UK) was able to select from which ones to ban electronics and take extra security measures. Donald Trump got hold of this and said, wait a minute, lets include the ME3 hubs (even though these might have been the least dangerous, or not even on the list) to help the US Big 3 Airlines.

    This seems very reasonable since DT and the Big 3 just had a meeting a few weeks ago, and he is a big promoter of american businesses. Perfect opportunity for a hidden stab to gulf carriers.

  22. @ hybrid — That’s actually the most plausible explanation I’ve heard, thank you for pointing it out. I don’t know if these airports have CT systems (not even all airports in the US do, last I checked), but will research.

  23. It’s funny how everybody seems to believe the ban is more credible now that the U.K. has implemented one as well. Very sad that you need another country to justify the actions of the USA. The greatest country on earth. I, for one, didnt need the U.K.’s opinion. The number one (and only) job of the federal government is to protect its citizens. And I trust that they are trying to do that. People just need to be complaining about something all the time.

  24. I don’t care about the reasons for the ban, or why there’s a discrepancy between the two bans, or whether this is protectionism. I care about two things that nobody has yet to explain:

    1. Why is it safer to put potential explosives in the cargo hold?

    2. Why are people who take a one-stop to the US/UK considered to be safer than those on a non-stop flight?

  25. If the airports have dogs sniffing checked luggage, which is probably way more common then them sniffing carry-ons, then this would also make a lot more sense.

  26. Let’s get back to what we know: Apparently, there’s some intelligence about terrorist threats using electronic devices. The intelligence seems partly different in the US and the UK.

    Now, explosives can be detected both by up to date x-ray scanners and chemical sample testing devices. Based on my – rather extensive – experience, both are thoroughly used in some countries/airports on the US list. He UK list coincides more, but equally not entirely, with my experience. Now, this let’s me think more politics had been involved in preparing the US list.

    For obvious reasons, I would not like to comment on specific countries/airports.

  27. Why is Pakistan not on any of the list. Pakistan is supposed to be state sponsored Terrorism country. Osama Bin Laden and major operative of Al Qaida were found in Pakistan. There is also Lashkar e tauba and many other groups that are still active in Pakistan. There is constant bomb threats and suicide bombers in Pakistan.

    There are direct flights from Pakistan via PIA. Just doesn’t add up

  28. “That raises even more questions in my mind as to the implementation of the US directive. If UK and US agencies are acting off of shared/FVEY intelligence, why would the countries not match up?”

    @Tiffany,

    Yet another Nonsensical post from Tiffany. I understand your lack of knowledge but with every post it looks pathetic.

    Here is something for you. suppose you are in a hall or a theater, when a bomb goes off, do everyone go in the same direction?

  29. I can see ME3 carriers updating their IFE systems to support external HD and MS Office and BT keyboards at least in premium cabins. J & F are the bread and butter of these carriers and this “protectionist” travel order will only cause them to innovate to support the passengers they rely on.

  30. @Roger The UK ban has size limits. Perhaps if it is just a small power bank, you’d be ok, you’d have to measure it to be sure. I have pulled my lap top for my CAI-LHR-ORD flight this weekend but am leaving in my small Jackery power bank as it is well below the size limit.

  31. Maybe you can help me out with this.
    All ban is confusing and opposite information which you can find online. Ill be traveling from Colombo via Dubai to Glasgow. Do I have to put my camera away or may I keep ot in my hand luggage?

    One website says alll divices bigger than…. Anothe says divices with svreen bigger than.

    I feel just stupid. My camera is a5000 and it has got 3inch screen. What I have to do?

  32. @ Konrad — There’s no electronics ban for flights from Dubai to Glasgow, so you’re good. 🙂

  33. Yesterday I flew from Istanbul to London (International transfer from another place). Ipad and Kindle could not be taken in the cabin and so they were packed up in a big box with everybody else’s devices and sent separately. My Batter bank (Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 8 x 2 cm ; 308 g, Item model number: UK RP-PB19(B) ) was taken from me by security. They said it would have to stay in Istanbul. But I could get it back if I went back to Istanbul within a week and claim it. Since I live in the UK, that would only work if I was going back to London through another route, wouldn’t it? Anyway, I was wondering if this also applies to business class customers? Also, given that the US has lifted the ban, I was wondering about the point of this, other than for Turkish border officers stealing people’s property?

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