Uh Oh: The Electronics Ban May Soon Be Expanded To More Airports

Filed Under: Travel Technology

Well this is just dandy. It sure seems like electronic devices may soon be going the way of liquids on a much larger scale for travel on commercial flights.

For flights since March 25, 2017, the US has issued a ban on electronics for nonstop flights from select countries to the US. For nonstop flights to the US from Amman, Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Casablanca, Dubai, Doha, Istanbul, Jeddah, Kuwait City, and Riyadh, electronic devices larger than phones aren’t allowed in the cabin, and need to be checked in the cargo hold.


I think just about everyone has been hoping that this would be a temporary ban, and that it would be lifted within weeks.

Well, unfortunately it’s looking like the opposite may be true. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has told a Senate committee today that the current electronics ban may be extended to more airports and countries, as it’s based on a “real” threat. Per CNN:

Kelly told a Senate committee that the move by his agency to ban large devices like laptops in carry-on luggage from 10 airports in eight countries is based on a specific concern.

“It’s real. I think it’s getting realer, so to speak,” Kelly said. “We may take measures in the not-too-distant future to expand the number of airports.”

“It’s a real threat. We know on any given day, there are dozens of cells that are talking about aviation, and you just watch them over time and see if they develop and they go from talking to actually doing something. So there’s a real threat all the time,” he said.

Much like everyone else, I of course value safety above all else. I don’t for a second question that there’s a real threat that this ban is in response to. At the same time, like most rational people (and even IATA), I question the logic of the way the ban has been implemented. As I’ve asked before:

  • If the US and UK are working off the same intelligence, why does the US have Qatar and the UAE on the list, while the UK doesn’t?
  • What’s the logic of only implementing this ban on nonstop flights to the US, and excluding flights like Emirates’ flights from Dubai to Athens to Newark, and Dubai to Milan to New York?
  • Is there not a practical way that electronics could be screened at the gate to see if they pose a threat to a flight?

There are lots of other questions I have, though those are the most obvious.

I’m sure I’m not alone in dreading the potential expansion of this ban. Unfortunately the government’s approach to “security” is often the same as airlines’ approach to fuel surcharges — they add them when appropriate, but never take them away.

Do you think the current electronics ban will expand to other routes?

  1. If it is all flights from Europe on airlines that are not American, it sounds more like US airline trade protectionism than anything.


    This administration is dishonest and disgusting.

  2. Why is Emirates Dubai – Milan – New York not included, but Royal Jordanian Amman – Montreal – Detroit is included? The Canadians, who specifically saw this intelligence and chose not to implement their own ban, must be annoyed by that.

  3. Hardly surprising, considering there are so many routes to the US and other susceptible countries via other airports. What bugs me is all the complaints regarding how passengers can’t bring their laptops onboard when, in reality, this (let’s face it) minor inconvenience has probably already saved at least one terrorist attack. Kudos to all the security forces who disregard first world problems for the safety of all fliers.

  4. @Corey RJ’s flight is non stop DTW-AMM during the summer while it stops in YUL the rest of the year. Also, RJ doesnt have 5th freedom rights for DTW-YUL so maybe thats why. The EK DXB-MXP-JFK is year round service and EK has 5th freedom rights for MXP-JFK. Cant include it without affecting American, Delta, Alitalia and United.

    Wanna bet that it’s only expanded to airports not served by US airlines?

  5. @Marty I dont think it’s a minor inconvenience when there are plenty of business travelers who use the time in air to get work done or for people who have trouble sleeping on planes and want something to do and not being limited to the airline’s IFE system. Furthermore, this ban isn’t global. It’s from specific airports.It can be easily circumvented by flying a different route. If a terrorist attack on a plane was the goal, do you really thing where they depart from is going to be an issue?

  6. @Marty. it’s not a minor inconvenience when your laptop is stolen or broken in your checked bag.

  7. “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”

    Welcome to Trump’s Amerikkka!

  8. Great…back to the bad old days of lugging around huge piles of books and spending loads of time and money trying to find English language books in other countries….

    Still trying to figure out why my teeny-tiny e-reader, which is thinner, lighter, and only slightly more surface area than many phones is included in the US ban.

    I do have the Kindle app on my phone, but I really prefer to read on something that isn’t backlit. Even airline provided laptops/tablets aren’t going to fix that.

  9. Again everyone, these are first world problems! Sorry to burst your bubble(s), but you won’t die if your laptop is damaged, lost, stolen, etc. I rely very much on my laptop too (I back up the important information onto my pendrive every Sunday night) but it’s only a piece of modern hardware which can easily be replaced. The average person sleeps for seven hours a day. How do you survive in those seven hours without internet access, video games, e-mail, etc.???

  10. Security kabuki strikes again.

    This is an yet another exercise[ by people without actual skill creating a policy with the intent to create the appearance of safety, without actually doing anything to neutralize the threat.

  11. @Marty – you’re right but like everything else this is no guarantee of safety. How many minor inconveniences do we endure in the same of safety?

    Further, if laptop computers were really a threat then shouldnt they be banned from all flights?? I’m not an expert but why couldnt someone just book a flight from London to New York – or even New York to Boston and cause damage accordingly?

    Until we’re all naked and handcuffed to a bench (including the pilots and flight attendants) there is no way to guarantee safety.

  12. I cannot trust any dictate coming out of this administration. Maybe there is a “real threat.” Or maybe it’s the administration trying to deflect the people’s attention away from Trump’s lies and corruption. After all, the current mentality is for everyone to blindly accept DHS dogma. Perfect! Want to deflect attention away from Trump’s collusion with the Russians? Just have DHS say that there’s danger everywhere but–do not fear!–Father Trump is lying awake at night figuring out ways to keep us safe!

    As I said, there certainly may be a viable, undisclosed threat. I’m just saying that this administration has no credibility.

    Nonetheless, it is what it is. I’ll easily manage with a pad of paper, a pen, Robert Massie’s biography of Catherine the Great, and a couple of bloody marys.

  13. Lucky, you always note that Qatar and UAE are excluded on the UK list but please note that Morocco and Kuwait have the same thing happening. Especially RAM tends to have a important role as they do provide a decent option for East-Coast based travellers to Africa.

  14. You would think that they would be able to use a ion spectrometer (explosives detection machine) on each item of concern. The passengers that “must” have their device would have to go through the extra screening in order to receive the stamp of approval. I am not aware of any countermeasures for this type of test, so would think that the threat would be eliminated.

    Additionally, the logic behind putting the devices in the cargo hold is beyond me. If there is an explosive hidden inside of a laptop, why in hell would you want to then put it in the cargo hold? Anybody? Anybody?

    In a previous job, I often trained with firearms and explosives and we would occasionally set off the “alarm” at the airport when returning home. That was even from the little residue that we had. If the machines are that sensitive, I would think that deploying them as people were walking on the plane would suffice.

  15. I very much appreciate your point of view Alex, but my assumption is that security forces somewhere received information that a terrorist organization were planning an attack on an international flight to the US and that proposed attack involved a laptop. We have absolutely no idea what goes on behind the scenes and probably never will. But like I said previously, kudos to the security forces for doing work that will can never be officially appreciated. As an example, if the “shoe bomber” were infiltrated before the actual incident occurred, we’d all be complaining about having to take off our footwear before boarding an airplane. In that case it worked out well but, as they say, hindsight is 20/20 vision. Unfortunately this is the state of the world we presently live in and if the price of saving 200 innocent lives is that of 500,000 business people (including myself) having to do without their precious laptops for 10+ hours, then that’s fine with me.

  16. To add to @AdamW’s point: wasn’t Pan Am 103 brought down by an electronic device that had been checked into the hold?

  17. @marty

    I just want to be able to play my game boy,but under the rules I can’t. It’s not just laptops – it’s almost every electronic not a cell phone.

  18. With today’s technology it is not needed to put electronics away. It is more a psicological measure just as the liquids and the shoes. At least with liquids seems they can sell more and more expensive…

  19. It’s pretty easy to see why the UK didn’t ban electronics from flights coming in from Qatar and the UAE – their economy would tank without Arabs filling up their hotels and retail outlets when they flee the middle east for the summer. The UK government has clearly chosen in favor of economics over security.

  20. @Austin and you say that based on what, exactly? extraordinary claims require extraordinary proofs, not the random crackpot comment of some internet dilettante

  21. Interesting to hear you say that you “value safety above all else.” I’m so glad the founders of our country didn’t feel that way.

  22. @ZO based on the same level of verified claims and proof that people are leveling at the current U.S. administration for being protectionist towards US carriers rather than truly concerned with security.

    Surely if baseless claims are good enough to accuse the U.S. administration of wrongdoing, they are good enough to accuse the UK government of the same.

  23. What about Nigeria, Aren’t they also a Terrorist Nation. Why don’t they include that on the list?!?!?!??!?! What is wrong with us?!?!?!?!??!

  24. Nigeria a terrorist nation?? That’s a stupid idea what exactly do you think happens in Nigeria if we stay on the left lane we might get blown up by an IED? No one will get past our security we may not be able to finish the insurgents off but they will never get close so @Jeffrey who probably has never researched past a CNN headline Nigeria is not a terrorist nation OK

  25. “It’s pretty easy to see why the UK didn’t ban electronics from flights coming in from Qatar and the UAE – their economy would tank without Arabs filling up their hotels and retail outlets when they flee the middle east for the summer. The UK government has clearly chosen in favor of economics over security.”

    WOW….Just WOW

  26. Lol… Uhh… Couldn’t they just check their electronics in their baggage, use a timer to take it out of sleep mode then create a small network from the pc and remote in from their phone? OR even easier… They just write an app to hack into the plane wifi and remote in via wifi? Like… I don’t actually believe any of this shit would happen. But it’s proof that if somebody REALLY wants to do something they will. I don’t think that a half-assedly (word? most likely not, but I like it) implemented electronics ban really solves anything. Smh.

  27. Returning from Cairo last week, CAI-LHR-DEN, BA Business Class, my experience in Cairo was:

    1. All boarding passengers were required to go through SEVEN x-ray lines, unpacking and repacking carry-ons. Most “lines” actually had two lines involved: a pre screening and then the x-ray. The requirements (shoes, no shoes, whatever, seemed utterly random)

    2. I was given a thorough physical pat-down six times. I am over 75 yrs old.

    3. There was no Business Class line at any point.

    4. BA personnel practically hid and were NO assistance to any BA passengers, including weeping Arab-appearing women who seemed to have no idea what was going on.

    5. At one point (5th x-ray) my Kindle was “discovered.” (I swear I had totally forgotten it since I don’t like them.) Thus my entire carry-on was taken away. I begged to have it as far as LHR. “It will be returned in London.” Of course, it wasn’t, but everything was examined and dug through once again. I received no baggage check for the carry-on in Cairo or in London.

    6. My bags were “held” in Denver because I had arrived from Cairo — certainly not non-stop. The bags were not allowed to go with me on the flight the following day to Arizona, but arrived two days later.

  28. Putting lipstick on a pig since this in no way protects anyone. A simple check at the security checkpoint could confirm any issues. Feeding the slobs that beat the drum for the Dumbpster so they can all say how he is keeping us safe.

  29. Just returned from CPT via DOH to LAX and SEA..

    The security at DOH was invasive and complete – more in your face than any other security check I have been through including JFK/LAX/SFO/SEA etc. The UK has it correct – DOH should not be a problem for security unless it is between check-in and the airplane.

    The electronics ban was nasty as we were stuck on a QR777 for 15 1/2 hours with lousy TV, movies and terrible food (in J). Also very concerned about portable printers, e-readers, and other necessary electronic items in luggage that was in transit in CPT for 4 hours and DOH for 9 hours. Everything arrived safely – the only problems were with TSA in LAX (once again – every time I pass through that bloody airport) where the TSA agents either cut off the TSA lock – or just don’t bother to put it back on the bag (is there a black market for used TSA approved locks?)!

    I will do everything in my power NOT TO FLY VIA USA in the future which might entail flying through LHR (God forbid).

    I find the paranoia of everyone blaming Trump for this to be sad it is almost amusing. What a nation!

  30. @marty
    Is not a matter of inconvenience. Anyone should be able to be off their electronic devices for a few hours.
    Is a matter of looking into the big picture.

    If someone somewhere wants to do something, they will.

    What will be next??? cavity searches on every passenger… ?

    The only way of being completely safe is not traveling at all.

    If there is such a high risk from electronic devices, then they should ban them from every national and international flight….

    And there is a much higher risk of something happening to you driving, riding a bike or walking around in any big city than flying…..

    You cannot live in fear

  31. @Imperator: “Want to deflect attention away from Trump’s collusion with the Russians”…

    Only about a hundred things wrong with this clueless comment. I’ll just list 3 of the major ones:

    1) It’s only distracting folks on this and a few other travel blogs. The average American voter hasn’t even heard of this ban, and wouldn’t care anyway since they have no plans to fly to the US from the ME, much less these specific countries.

    2) Obama’s own security folks, Clapper, Comey, Rice, et al have all said there is no evidence whatsoever of any collusion between Trump and Russia. The way things are being leaked, if there was anything at all, you’d be quoting it from the NY Times. And the Times has nothing.

    3) You have the whole concept bass ackwards. The “Russian Collusion” (sic) story was made up by the Obama/Clinton people. First in hopes of digging up some dirt on Trump to make sure Clinton won. Hence the listening in on all of their calls. When they didn’t find anything to use, and lost anyway, they moved to unmasking Trump people, and leaking any thing that even sounds suspicious in hopes of delegitimizing Trump and obstructing his agenda.

    Funny that you use the slur “Father-Trump”, when your handle here, the Roman name Imperator, translates to English as Emperor. I’m curious, what are you the Emperor of? 😉

  32. European Aviation Security Agency is now publicly criticizing the ban, saying it’s preferable for electronics to be in the cabin or in carry-on bags

  33. @Alan

    Thanks for the report on your recent trip. Sounds frustrating.

    When you say “I will do everything in my power NOT TO FLY VIA USA …” I was confused. In reading your post, I got the impression your final destination was SEA. Was that not the case? I’m only asking because I wasn’t sure if you meant not to fly via DOH or LAX or someplace else.

    Also, regarding people blaming Trump, it’s not really paranoia (indeed some might say Trump has that), it’s more like skepticism or even cynicism. I’m not saying I love or hate the Donald, just being concise with the description of some of the comments here.

  34. @Sam Sorry to hear of your miserable experience at the Cairo airport. But I really doubt all this was done on orders from the TSA. I was in Egypt decades ago, and I saw people being put thru a low-tech version of this. All of their luggage was totally unpacked and carefully inspected. Supposedly to keep people from smuggling out antiquities.

    Our personal tour guide shook hands with the Security person in charge, and by watching closely I saw the cash passing between them. We were then escorted right thru without any security check at all.

    The Egyptian Security Theatre has 2 purposes. To keep everyone looking busy, as they want to keep their jobs. And to encourage those bribes to keep flowing. 😉

  35. Am I the only one who hates the term “first world problems?” The assumption seems to be that as long as I’m not being raped or beaten every day I shouldn’t complain about anything, because someone, somewhere is worse off than I am. I guess I should just shut up and never try to improve my situation, because some idiot on the internet knows what’s best for me and has deemed my problems unimportant. And I should never question authority or be unsatisfied, because how are we going to solve poverty and war when I’m using up all the world’s problem solving resources with my “first world problems?” I mean, seriously guys, by complaining about this electronics ban we’ve probably killed hundreds of people with our pettiness! We should just accept all of this stuff unquestioningly until our problems become serious enough to not be “first world problems” anymore!

  36. Yay! As a non US citizen with no need to travel to the US it is so fun to see this develop – much like Trump.

  37. Do you guys think we are over due for a war? Trump’s approval ratings are low. Weapons and bombs have a shelf life. Better to use them up before they expire. Sounds like middle east is always a good option for pounding, like a cheap whore. Or perhaps north Korea.

  38. Yeah?

    Wait till the underwear bomb is refined.

    have you ever wondered what y’all really look like. I mean *really*!! Why let TSA have all the fun?

  39. I wonder when we’ll all have to take an emetic to go through security? I doubt terrorists have missed what drug smugglers have known for years, anything you swallow doesn’t show up on any scan! I’m betting you could swallow more explosives with timers or a wire running up into the mouth than you could fit in a small laptop. This is all nonsense, it’s good enough to stop people until some wingnut like Czolgosz comes along and thinks he’ll be able to hang with the cool kids by swallowing a bunch of condoms filled with explosive.

  40. Next step in this is that they’ll produce a tablet and laptop that’s made by Trump and then have John Kelly come out and endorse that’s the only type of device that are allowed on flights going forward.
    In a year’s time, you won’t be able to wear clothes onto flights unless they are made by Trump.

  41. give me a loaner iPad and free internet, and i’ll never carry an “electtonic device” again…. and i will sleep soundly knowing some ass-hat is not going to blow me up mid-flight….

  42. most in-flight explosives need manual manipulation because the actual explosives are detectable by modern screening, but components that are otherwise innocent, can be mixed in-flight to create explosive chemistry.

    thus, swallowing components wouldn’t do you any good unless you could retrieve them in-flight to do the necessary preparation….

  43. i am not shy.

    i would rather a completely nude flight (OK give me a TSA hospital gown), with all bags carried on a completely separate flight…. arriving safely is my primary concern.

  44. A couple of questions for anyone out there:

    Can I bring noise cancelling headphones if they use a standard AAA battery (ie, not lithium)?

    What is the benefit of the electronic ban? I thought mobile phones could activate another device in the hold … does this mean all planes will now have lead-lined barriers to the cargo area (or am I confusing electronics with kryptonite?).

    As for the inconvenience @Marty – I could live without my tablet on the plane. But I don’t trust that it will still be in my bag when I arrive at my destination. On arrival, not having books to read (use the Kindle app on my tablet), not having access to the WWW to source travel information, not having access to my banking apps would be a big inconvenience. And before you say all this can be added to my mobile phone – the screen on that is ridiculously small compared to the tablet and too hard for my tired old eyes to read.

  45. So, put the “explosive” laptops in the cargo hold? How does that protect anyone at all? Pan Am 103 was brought down by bomb, in the cargo hold, fitted inside a portable radio. If these devices are such a threat they shouldn’t be allowed on the plane whatsoever. If they are not then we should ditch this insane policy.

    @marty, sorry but I really cannot see your point at all here. While we may not know what is “happening behind the scenes” in terms of intelligence info, we can easily understand the basic principles of security in aviation. Basic common sense tells us this policy achieves nothing, and it’s particularly notable that 3 of the “five eyes” have chosen not to implement it at all (Canada, Australia, and NZ) thinking it silly and counterproductive.

    I hate getting political on here but this really does seem like a foolish, headline-seeking policy from an Presidential Administration in utter chaos, that is achieving nothing at all but wants to demonstrate some so-called “tough measures” on security (and protect our “poor, victimized” lazy domestic airlines)

  46. “Much like everyone else, I of course value safety above all else. I don’t for a second question that there’s a real threat that this ban is in response to”

    This is your fundamental error. I once asked the ladies at the Lufthansa lounge why UAL flights from Munich had extra security screening at the gate. “Americans are cowards” was their candid response. Oh yes – extra security screening if you didn’t carry a US passport.

    There was once a day when this wasn’t true. Back when the country was “the home of the brave”.

    And as for valuing safety over everything else, I doubt that’s true. If you really did, you and everyone else would be lobbying your government to control cars and drivers. 90 people a day in the US die in auto accidents. Vastly more are injured. The real “terrorists” in the world of transportation are teenagers texting their friends while driving. Driving to the airport has always been the most dangerous part of travel.

  47. @Lucky – thought you were going to monitor comments … please remove Credit’s inflammatory comments.

  48. I would impose stricter or same bans from US flights to Europe, you get the same treatment.

  49. Someone suggested a timer to wake their laptop. In the bios there is already a function that wakens my laptop every morning.

  50. Thought I read that going into cargo hold, the screening is far better – world-wide – to detect any explosives, what have you. So if ME3 take your devices at the gate, where is that screening before going into the cargo hold?

  51. I love it when people try to put down complaints by referring to them as “first world problems”. We live in a first world country (or at least it still is currently), so obviously we will be complaining about first world issues. Sorry I’m not here to talk about my long trip to the well today to get water for my family.

  52. When laptops were new, you were required to turn them on at security to prove it was real. Why not go back to that system?

  53. @Lionel Hardcastle “give me a loaner iPad and free internet, and i’ll never carry an “electtonic device” again…. and i will sleep soundly knowing some ass-hat is not going to blow me up mid-flight….”
    Actually… you should also be concerned about getting run over when walking into the airport, car accident on the way to the airport, the millions of bacteria and viruses circulating in the plane, potential mechanical failures, microbes in your seat and tray, cellphones catching fire, maniac passengers getting aggressive, high sodium food in the plane, etc. And you should definitely not sleep in the plane… you must move your legs all the time so you don’t form a clot and die from an embolism.

  54. LOL yo Lionel, seriously, since you clearly are so scared of everything, I recommend you never leave the USA, you never fly on an airplane, that you go hide in your basement clutching your shotgun ready to shoot at anyone who looks like “dem dirty furners!”.
    Even non-professional aviation buffs can see this policy doesn’t really improve safety, especially since it is not worldwide. Further, TSA is not one to be complaining about security at other airports considering their own undercover attempts they miss up to 97% of contraband.

  55. JJ smaller ( space taking up) batteries will still power up a laptop to show it functions.

  56. Hey Lucky, it seems you called this one right! And it seems the UK could be next on the ban lol. We will have to see how this one plays out. If no US airlines are included in any electronics ban for flights in the UK, then it will prove what most of us knew in the first place, the ban was a non-tariff protectionist move.
    Supposing US airlines are affected, it could still be a smokescreen to cover protectionist movement against the ME3.

    In any case, moving explosives from the main cabin to the cargo hold does not make things one bit safer, keeping explosives off the plane not surprisingly if very effective in that regard.


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