IATA Calls Out The Electronics Ban, Demands It Be Reconsidered

For just under a week now, an electronics ban has been in place for select flights to the US and the UK. The ban seems a bit ridiculous to me, not because I want safety to be compromised, but rather because of how inconsistent and poorly thought out the policy seems to be.

Inflight-wifi

A lot of people have called into question the logic of the ban (especially as it pertains to the US restricting flights from the UAE and Qatar, while the UK doesn’t, even though they’re presumably going off the same intelligence).

Well, now the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is calling out the electronics ban and demanding a change. For those of you not familiar with IATA, it’s an airline trade organization representing 265 airlines and roughly 83% of total air traffic. In other words, they’re the voice of airlines. Here’s what they’re saying about the electronics ban:

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on governments to urgently find alternatives to recently announced measures by the United States and the United Kingdom to restrict the carry-on of large electronic items on certain flights departing the Middle East and North Africa.

“The current measures are not an acceptable long-term solution to whatever threat they are trying to mitigate. Even in the short term it is difficult to understand their effectiveness. And the commercial distortions they create are severe. We call on governments to work with the industry to find a way to keep flying secure without separating passengers from their personal electronics,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

They ask all the same questions we’ve raised here on the blog:

“With the measures now in place, our passengers and member airlines are asking valid questions. Why don’t the US and the UK have a common list of airports? How can laptops be secure in the cabin on some flights and not others, including flights departing from the same airport? And surely there must be a way to screen electronic equipment effectively? The current situation is not acceptable and will not maintain the all-important confidence of the industry or of travelers. We must find a better way. And Governments must act quickly,” said de Juniac.

Here’s a video with IATA’s CEO about the electronics ban:

And as you’d expect, IATA would like governments to work more closely with airlines towards the common goal of keeping aviation safe:

IATA also expressed frustration at the process used by governments to put in place the security measures which was woefully lacking. “The industry came together quickly to implement the new requirements. That was a challenge because there was no prior consultation and little coordination by governments,” said de Juniac.

IATA has long called for better information sharing and coordination on security measures among governments and with the industry.

“While governments have the primary responsibility for security, we share the priority of keeping passengers, crew and aircraft secure. To do that effectively intelligence is king. And it needs to be shared amongst governments and with the industry. It’s the only way to stop terrorists before they get near an airport, let alone aircraft,” de Juniac.

Moreover, cooperation between industry and governments yields a better result. “Airlines don’t want access to state secrets. But if airlines understand the outcome governments want, they can help with the operational experience to deliver that result effectively and efficiently,” said de Juniac.

Well said, IATA… well said. I hope they keep putting pressure on the government, because if not, something tells me this will become a permanent restriction, like the liquids ban.

(Tip of the hat to Thinus)

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. Kudos to IATA for speaking out, but I wonder whether their statements have any teeth? I doubt the US will drop or even adjust its ban simply because IATA calls it into question (though they should…) because then they’re basically admitting fault and setting a precedent whereby a non-American organization gets to “set policy” for the United States. However, I hope I’m wrong.

  2. Once again, if a person flies THY from Istanbul to a US destination, they will be forced to comply with the electronic/cabin ban. While a person flying from the same Istanbul airport on a US flag carrier to a US destination will not have to comply with the ban… How is this logical? The only difference is the airline. Same airport, same origin, similar destination, same security…

  3. At least the liquids ban was applied worldwide, eventually. The electronics ban is of such a small scope that it leaves rest of the world with raging gaps. Especially since the US revealed it knows about the specific plot, which means the terrorists will simply attempt airports that aren’t affected by the ban and preferably have US carriers fly out of them.
    Not to mention, storing these electronics in the hold, should any of them be an explosive device, would not make the plane any safer.
    Yeah UK, along with the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are all part of the “Five Eyes”, and closely share intelligence to the point they created a separate worldwide network among them, so it’s an insult to anyone with a brain beyond the brain stem when the DHS tells us this is not a protectionist movement.

  4. @Lucky: are you really questioning, why the uk is not banning devices from Qatar and the UAE? Or is this just a rhetorical question?

    For me it is obvious, as they don’t want the sheikh’s and their families stop coming over for shopping 😉

  5. @Robert – no US carrier flies to Istanbul. But PIA flies direct to the US nonstop and for some reason they were not part of either ban…

  6. IATA needs to keep its mouth shut about issues it plainly hasn’t been fully briefed about for the very reasons that their statement highlights.

  7. So, the tsa has not figured out a “bad player” could communicate with their computer device in the hold of the plane with their cell phone with wifi or bluetooth ?

  8. @Emirates4Ever PIA flies to the US via MAN, which is not nonstop. Screening takes place in MAN since nonstop flights between Pakistan and the US are not allowed by the FAA. In addition, Pakistan does not seem to be part of any ban, considering the UK has nonstop flights to there and does not ban the electronics on those flights.

  9. I honestly don’t mind this becoming a permanent restriction between the US/UK and the Middle East as long as it doesn’t become a global restriction.

  10. Good.

    This ban has nothing to do with security and everything to do with protectionism masquerading as security. If there’s some comfort, it’s that the D-students in the current administration don’t have the brains to even write policies that hold up to scrutiny.

  11. @Emirates4Ever: The liquid ban isn’t universal either. Australia and New Zealand don’t restrict liquids on domestic flights, for example. Heck, the last time I flew domestically in NZ they didn’t screen non-jet flights at all!

  12. Upon checking in at CMB with UL, I was ( on monday) told by SriLankan that I had to check my laptop in for my trip: CMB-MAA-LHR-ORD. UL to MAA and BA MAA to ORD. This was after I already checked-in at CMB – and was in the SriLankan lounge. They came and found me in the lounge and kept asking “where is the laptop, where is the laptop”. UL told me i had to check-in the laptop since I was going to the United States. I only had 2 carry-ons and after pressing them to explain why I was subject to the laptop ban – i eventually had to cave with minutes left in the boarding process due and check in one of my backpacks. I remember clearly watching one of the 5 GAs filling out a bag tag by hand and thinking “this might be the last time I see this bag”.

    I was given a number of excuses by UL including 1) you are traveling with electronic to the US. 2) Your carry-on is too large (although it was an Osprey 46 which is 100% fine, although tight for the A330 J. 3) You are only allowed 7kg of carry-on. 4) You are on BA and all foreigners going through the UK are required to check-in laptops.

    At the gate I made my final questioning as to why – but due to the language barrier the argument kept going recursive with them saying “you have a laptop and you need to check it in”.

    On UL125 there was another traveler going onto the US on my same flights w/ laptop intact in her carry-on.

    At MAA I was greeted by a very nice TA and she attempted to get my bag out of the hold or wherever it was. She was surprised and said that I should not have had to check the bag. She left me in that amazing lounge at MAA for a number of hours (I had a long layover) then returned with photos of my bag and claim sticker (bag was retagged) and that she couldn’t get it out due to security and that the bag didn’t have the proper stamps etc – which is another complete story in itself ( they couldn’t believe I was there post security w/out any stamps on my remaining carry-on or my boarding pass now reprinted on BA stock).

    At ORD on the jet bridge leaving the plane, there was my name on a paper taped to the wall. The bag didn’t make it. As of this writing, I still don’t have my bag – but supposedly FedEx is delivering it today.

    I sent @FlySriLankan twitter messages asking about this – no response ….

    In hindsight maybe it was a good thing assuming I get the bag back. It forced me to unplug.

  13. @Sean M: Care to elaborate, at least a little bit? From your previous posts, I’m aware that you’re familiar with the industry and certain regions of the world.

    To me, there may be a threat out there, but I’m failing to see how keeping these devices on the aircraft helps when these devices also have wireless radios & time clocks built into them.

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