Here’s How Airlines Handled The Electronics Ban On Day One

Filed Under: Emirates, Travel Technology

The electronics ban for US-bound flights officially went into effect for many airlines yesterday, March 25, 2017. Over the past several days we’ve learned how airlines will be dealing with the ban, including Emirates, Etihad, and Turkish.

Based on their policies, Emirates and Turkish seem to be doing the best job, as they’re allowing passengers to check their electronics at the gate for their US-bound flights, in order to minimize the disruption. This way people don’t have to check their electronics at their point of origin, and can also use electronics at the airport before boarding starts.

So while the policies of Emirates and Turkish sound good in theory (well, at least as good as something like this is going to get), how did it work in practice at the airport?

Based on what I’ve seen online and heard from readers, it seems like this situation is being handled about as well as it can be, at least for Emirates and Turkish.

The way it seems to work is that US departure gates are partitioned off (this was already the case at many airports), and then each passenger undergoes an intensive screening when entering the gate area, including a pat down and a search of their belongings.

Some pictures have emerged of how this is being handled at gates. Below is a picture shared by a Twitter user of Emirates staff carefully packaging electronics.

I’m impressed by Emirates’ system — each person’s belongings are packaged individually with bubble wrap. Then all the boxes are kept in the same area, and seem to be monitored carefully. I actually have some faith in the system here. It makes me feel better about the risk of damage or theft, though of course still doesn’t solve the issue of having to be separated from your electronics.

Turkish also seems to have a pretty decent system in place. They have rolling cases with three compartments. The downside is that you don’t have the same private packaging as on Emirates. At the same time, the case itself looks sturdier than the ones Emirates use.

Bottom line

While this whole electronics ban isn’t ideal, I’m at least impressed by how some airlines are handling it. While I’ll certainly avoid airlines impacted by the ban due to the inconvenience of being separated from your electronics, I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable checking electronics with one of these airlines… at least not Emirates or Turkish.

What a logistical pain this must be for airlines to deal with.

Has anyone had firsthand experience with the electronics ban yet?

  1. How do the passengers collect them at the other end?
    Its kind of like gate checking your pushchairs, just on a bigger (and more expensive) scale!

  2. How are they handling CPAP machines? The new rule allows medical devices required for use in flight, but that exception only covers small, battery-powered CPAP devices, not the larger CPAP machines we use at home and in hotel rooms overseas. These larger devices would not fit in the packaging shown in your pics, and their carrying cases are not sturdy enough to survive as checked luggage.

  3. The Turkish solution seems to limit the impact if these electronic devices catch fire, but are the Emirates bags stored in a fireproof container in the hold?

  4. Confused as to why you haven’t mentioned the safety concerns in both the EK and TK methods. A lot of pilots on twitter are highly critical of the work around not least due to the pallet of lithium batteries that are now in the hold and th deadly consequences.

    It also seems very odd that other EU countries, Australia, NZ and Canada (who all share intelligence) haven’t followed suit with similar bans.

  5. I still don’t understand the reasoning about this but at least these airlines are checking them through security on arrival . If not who knows what could be in them .

  6. Ben, on a flight from ist-ord. We backednup 1 hour late due to the extra checks at gate…. Unbelievabke. Yet, the electronics were individually bubble wrapped before placed in luggage. Overall not awful first day although I wish they had a fast track for business passengers. Nevertheless, TK went above and beyond.

  7. It is truly remarkable how quickly Turkish and Emirates rolled this out. I couldn’t imagine the US3 or any other US carrier being able to implement this sort of system so quickly. Maybe they could with a fee…

  8. They had cellphones, still looking for safety issue to be addressed, convenience is not the only issue.

  9. On the EK one I can see how people would collect them at the end (e.g. use a ticket). But I don’t see a foolproof way of proving the owner of the laptop on the TK method, as they all are just combined into one.

  10. I flew DOH to PHL on Saturday morning originating in Phuket the evening prior. Qatar has no special packaging in place like Emirates and Turkish but check in staff in Phuket asked about laptops and such and said it all had to be checked. Secondary screening for the US bound flights was typical and both JFK and PHL flights closed up on time. These are the gates with the closed glass areas and JFK & PHL were side by side. They had extra staff asking passengers as they queued into the glass enclosure about electronics and battery packs/power banks. It did seem like more folks than usual were selected for additional screening, including myself. I was issued a SSSS boarding pass for the PHL flight in Phuket, but only for the PHL flight and not for the first segment to DOH. In any case it was fine. Didn’t miss the one laptop and three iPads for the kids. We were all flying business, but everyone was treated the same and the queues to enter the glass enclosure weren’t separated by cabin. The process was very orderly and efficient and only the SSSS passengers seemed to “wait”. The flight did leave over two hours late, but that was due to an unusual rain storm at the airport that left a bunch of debris on both runways forcing their closure so ground crew could clear everything off.

  11. @Charlie

    CPAP machines should be fine per the dhs fact sheet which says that necessary medical devices may remain in passenger possession once screened

    Royal Jordanian’s Twitter and email notification was the only one I’ve seen so far that called out specifically only allowing medical devices that needed to be used on board during the flight. Double check with the airline though.

  12. I wonder how loads have been affected. I’m very dubious that business travelers will willingly check their laptops if any other routing is available.

  13. @MattyFL Do I understand you correctly that you weren’t even allowed to have your laptops/tablets on the HKT-DOH segment?

  14. @Mak HKT staff said it had to be checked but there was no inspection by Qatar staff nor by the security personnel in Phuket. So not sure how point of origin enforcement is remotely feasible. But upon arrival in PHL all checked bags were opened and inspected. Bags took forever too…

  15. @Billiken – by “terrorists” do you mean Trump and his cronies ?

    @Lucky – whilst I appreciate your honesty saying you will avoid the impacted airlines/routes – for you to have spent years praising the ME4, and now to abandon them, smells somewhat of cowardice.

  16. I am just wondering what would have been the media reaction if a similar ban was announced on El-Al. I can just imagine the shitstorm in the media. Apparently it is Ok to be anti-semitic as long as the semites in questions are Muslim or Christian (Arabs and Jews are both Semites).And this despite the fact that everyone knows El-Al is a bigger target than any of the other Middle Eastern airlines.

  17. Stupid question: how is the no-electronics enforcement validated at destination? Is it validated and if yes, what would be consequences of not complying? In short, what happens if one passenger squeaks in with iPad?

  18. I flew to LAX with EK in business on the day the ban started and saw no evidence of this taking place, either in Dubai or on arrival in Los Angeles. Luckily I’d already packed my laptop and iPad into my hold luggage as I’d not had any clear answers from Emirates to questions about how this would work.

  19. I will be traveling on EK from Cairo to Orlando in April. I intend to gate check my stuff in Dubai. I’ll let you know how that works out. BTW, this is complete and utter bullshit from Trump and his administration to hurt the ME3. Nothing more. I live in Dubai and the security at DXB is way better than anything provided by the damn near useless TSA. If the threat was real, the Brits would have added the UAE and Qatar as well. They didn’t.

  20. @Prabuddha funny you mention El-Al. The former head of airport security at Ben Gurion himself says this ban is ridiculous.
    @Billiken I’m with you, I’m still flying Emirates even to the US. Either I will fly on their non-stop to Rio, or, if this impacts them significantly, I’ll probably be able to get a heavy discount on business or first and go that way and just be without my electronics.
    @Skyymann Couldn’t agree more!

  21. Qatar route home SIN DOH JFK
    currently en route with cameras, laptops etc spread across 4 small bags.. had to check them all the way through.. SIN staff said could not be in carryon for SIN DOH leg
    Will update you when we, and hopefully all our stuff gets to JFK,
    will be repacking and carrying for domestic flight from JFK

  22. Okay heres my take on Qatar at Doha
    Very efficient and well handled

    They have packing materials and packers so you can carry on devices to Doha and check them just for last leg. They were also “bagging & cable tie sealing” carryon bags that contained electronics..

    Just wished Singapore knew that….

    Arrival at JFK no issues….

  23. Hi,
    I dropped in at the Apple store and was told that Apple products ship to the store with a 40% charge. It is recommended to drain the battery to at least 65%. (maybe lower if you don’t need to use it before you can charge it safely again.) This might be deserving of a post as a heads up to other people. I see people have posted their concerns about batteries but I haven’t seen anything about making their transport safer.

  24. The onus is on carriers to securely transport gadgets to the US. Cannot trust Saudia, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc and Egypt Air. The Gulf 4 should do a good job. All for a stupid Laptop.

    This has been a crippling blow to middle eastern carriers. Its a holy war. Only a fraction of biz travellers to the US fly via the Gulf. Most either originate in the gulf or are in transit from the sub continent. If you must use your laptop for 14 hours, suggest you avoid the Gulf. Most unpleasant. Gulf carriers will lose business to the US. Period! This is a trade war. The US carriers instigated this move, cheesed off by ultra competetive Gilf carriers. The Americans had a poor product and little cash so abandoned the region in the face of stiff competition from the Gulf 4. Its heavy duty politics at play. The Gulf 4 are the targets.

    Airlines from high risk muslim countries will never be able to fly nonstop to the US from their home base.

    Most Gulf carriers will be severely effected and will post a loss in the next quarter.

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