How Turkish Airlines Is Handling The Electronics Ban

Filed Under: Travel, Turkish

This week we’ve learned about electronics bans being instituted for flights from select countries to both the US and the UK. Airlines are having to institute these new policies this week, so it’s interesting to see the different approaches airlines take to coping with this situation.

Royal Jordanian has been putting effort into throwing shade at the situation, as they’ve been doing since Trump was elected president.

Meanwhile Emirates yesterday announced a new laptop and tablet handling service. Emirates is introducing a service that enables passengers to use their laptops and tablets until just before they board their US-bound flight. At the gate there will be security staff who will carefully package your electronics in boxes before boarding, and then you can collect them on arrival.

It looks like the next airline to outline their electronics handling service is Turkish. Turkish Airlines has put out the following announcement:

Turkish Airlines introduces its new offerings to make their U.S. and U.K. bound passengers’ journeys more comfortable during the implementation process of the electronics ban that declared by the concerned authorities.

  • Our passengers will continue to use the on board internet with their mobile phones.
  • Laptops, tablets and other electronic devices may be used until the boarding gate where they will be handed over.
  • Our transfer passengers will have to deliver their respective devices at the boarding gate on their arrival in Istanbul.
  • If passenger prefers not to place his/her electronical devices to the checked baggage during the check-in, according to the amendments, these devices will be handed over to be tagged at the boarding gate for a safe and secure transportation, and will be handed back to the passengers upon arrival at the destination. At this destination there will be Turkish Airlines’ authorized staff who will collect the luggages that contain electronic devices. These staff will take them all to the designated place in baggage reclaim area, and all devices will be delivered to owners by these staff by matching the given luggage tags with the record list they have.

Why do we do that?

As per the directive issued by the relevant authorities in their respective countries, which will be effective as from 25th of March 2017, passengers of U.S. and U.K. bound flights from/through Istanbul Ataturk Airport are not permitted to carry electronic devices, with the exception of medical devices, larger than a cell phone or smart phone on board.

All laptops, tablets, cameras*, e-readers and gaming devices must be placed in checked-in baggage at the start of any U.S.-bound or U.K.-bound journey. Turkish Airlines offers a special service from Istanbul Atatürk Airport that gives its passengers a safe and secure method of carrying their electronics in a special area in the cargo hold of the aircraft.

Transit passengers may hand over their electronic devices at the boarding gate.

The ban does not affect flights leaving from the U.S. or U.K. for Turkey and beyond.

* Bringing aboard cameras is not restricted for U.K. bound flights.


So it looks like Turkish has a similar policy to Emirates. Turkish will let you check your electronics at the gate, and then claim them separately upon arrival. You also have the option of not checking your electronics at the gate and instead placing them in your checked baggage.

If you are traveling with electronics, I’d highly recommend bringing them to the gate and checking them there, rather than just placing them in your bag:

  • I imagine theft from checked bags is much more likely, given that they’re unsupervised for a long time, and baggage handlers will know that a higher percentage of bags on US and UK bound flights will have electronics
  • I imagine that the special electronics “shipment” will be watched much more carefully, not be unattended for extended periods of time, etc.

So while it’s not ideal, I’m happy to at least see that airlines have solutions beyond just telling people to check their electronics in their bag.

Lastly, also be aware of the options for insuring your electronics.

Do these handling services make you feel any better about parting ways with electronics? 

  1. I like Jordanian’s option #12. If enough people did that and raised a stink, maybe this kind of nonsense wouldn’t keep happening.

  2. Really helpful, thanks. One question I haven’t seen anyone address: what are the parameters for small, point-and-shoot cameras that would lead them to be disallowed from carry-on bags? My camera is a Canon SX280, which is smaller than most phones but significantly thicker.

    The document TK posted seems to imply that all cameras are included in the US ban, but that doesn’t seem right or fair, given how small some point-and-shoot cameras are.

  3. @Eric the US ban is more poorly written than the UK version which at least does specify a size but it does appear all cameras are banned:

    “Examples of large electronic devices that will not be allowed in the cabin on affected flights include, but are not limited to:” and then goes on to list cameras among various other items. If you Google the quoted text you will find the full TSA document which you can read yourself.

    @Lucky while this does make me feel very marginally better about checking stuff I will still route around this issue as this doesn’t change my calculation.

  4. As a leisure traveler who is flying on Turkish in a month this works for me. My companion and I only want to take tablets in addition to phones. I feel this is much more secure than putting electronics in regular checked luggage.

  5. I have been constantly DM’ing Qatar on which we will fly next week from CPT-DOH-LAX. They claim to have taken the first steps to handle onboard electronics – BUT ONLY AT DOH.

    Flying from CPT they insist I must stow electronics in my check-in. Not going to happen.

    Perhaps there is a way to SHAME QATAR into behaving properly as their response is so weak that if re-routing was possible I would have already done it. I attempted to contact AA representatives here in SA but they claim they would have to charge a change fee for any changes. It appears that a great many passengers have already switched to Cathay (DOH-HKG QR, HKG-LAX CX) so the space disappears immediately it opens up.

    First and last trip on QR unless they find a solution at least as good as EK and TK.

  6. I think it’s silly I can’t bring my game boy on board these flights. Long Haul Flying is the only time I really get time to do so.

  7. Yesterday there were 4 deaths by shooting in Wisconsin. One cop was killed. The same number of people as in London. Everyone has heard about the London incident, almost no one has heard about the Wisconsin one. What’s the difference?

    Stop wasting money, just assume a few planes will be lost every year due to terrorism. The chances of getting killed would still be lower than being shot by a deranged white man that is “not a terrorist but just mentally sick”.

  8. Saudia has taken a different approach with the whole thing and has started advertising their IFE system including what they call “plug and play”.

    That’s a very underwhelming response given that they didn’t solve the main problem facing business travelers and those who don’t want to check their electronics, I don’t even consider it a response, it’s just advertising and nothing else.

    They sort of missed the mark completely.

  9. @Credit:

    Sadly, shootings are too common in the US for most Americans to really care anymore. We’ve been de-sensitized. If the shooting and killing of young school children at Sandy Hook wasn’t enough to wake-up the portion of Middle America and the South to the fact that we some major reform on gun laws, then I fear nothing will. The US is a large country with a large population of unintelligent and under-informed yokels.

  10. This is good news, I’m flying Turkish in June (hopefully the ban should be lifted by then, I’ve heard the Turkish government is trying tot get Turkey excluded). I’m happy to go along with this system, it’s kind of like how you leave a suitcase at a hotel.

    Am I right in thinking that it only applies to going to the UK and not going from the UK as well?

  11. @AdamR The US is also full of out of touch liberal elite who make vast generalizations about other Americans. I can assure you being from Chicago the vast majority of murders come from illegally purchased firearms. Of course the news NEVER talks about those because it is black on black violence. The vast majority of murders in our country are not from mass shootings. You make it seem as though the country is full of rednecks running around with guns shooting people…which it’s not.

    As for the subject at hand it is unfortunate because regardless of gate check options for electronics I will avoid these carriers…unless traveling to the effected countries.

  12. Does this rule have any marginal impact on incentivizing new fifth freedom routes (i.e. Qatar/Etihad/Turkish/Egyptian et al trying to copy Emirates to US via Athens/Milan)?

    I would guess this isnt a big factor in that kind of planning, but at the margin via a Euro city they already fly to?

  13. Like your using of “throwing shade”… must have confused half of the stale crumblies that frequent this blog 😉

  14. Yes, the gate side check in feels like a small light in the end of the dark tunnel. Its not perfect in my opinion, but its better than checking in your electronics.

  15. justin, tablets above a certain size are included in the UK ban. I think all tablets are banned in the American one.

  16. how hard is it for an airline to realize all they have to do is buy some cheap tablets or laptops, and offer to rent them to passengers?.. does it really take a genius to implement a tablet rental program?.. cant bring one aboard? use ones that are already in the plane.

  17. If i was a passenger affected by this electronic ban, i would fly via ca European capital / connecting flight. Not a snowballs chance in hell, would I put my laptop and iPad into checked luggage. NEVER !!! Watch the theft rates fm checked baggage go up from all these points of origins. Its like telling the burglar where the vault is. all they have to do now is break the suitcase. NEVER !!!!!

  18. If this rather stupid ban persists, I suspect at least some airlines will provide usb-port equipped loaner laptops to passengers (free to first/biz class, perhaps rental to economy) and invite them to bring flash/thumb drives with them containing their work or games to be used during the flights, returned upon landing. The data can then be transferred to the customer devices which have been securely carried.

  19. And they will hand out gift wrapping and a bow as your laptop is gifted to ramp agents that steal it.

  20. Dear Lucky,
    I will be flying from Istanbul to SFO in mid May and am very interested in hearing how Turkish handles the process of looking after your electronics. I assume this includes camera gear as well as laptops/tablets. Please keep us informed and I will be very interested in hearing about people’s experiences!

  21. These Gulf carriers should clear out the upper deck of A380s and put a dozen typists with good old Underwood or Remington typewriters furiously typing away.

  22. my concern is the uninformed staff. I was on a Birmingham UK to Istanbul flight last week (not FROM UK not to), the flight attendant asked me to give him my ipad to be put in a secure location during the flight (whilst we were taxiing). I politely argued but he still took my ipad, then 1 minute later came back and said leave it switched off until after take off then you can use it. Has something changed or was he just stupid?

  23. It seems everyone agrees on how silly this ban is. I am an employee of TK and just wanted to point out something: the company that is authorized to do the TK security for our flights to the US also does the same for US airlines… From the same airport… So how come they are excluded from this ban, although their passengers go through exactly the same security screenings?

  24. It is all about harassment of Muslim countries and economic warfare – two birds with one stone basically. This was American and Western carriers get an unfair advantage since they can’t compete based on terrible customer service, both on and off the plane without running afoul of WTO rules. I was going to fly the cheapest from Turkey, but now I will use Turkish Airlines on purpose. They have the best entertainment system I have seen and really good service and food.

  25. My family is flying TK in about a month and I am glad to hear the airline has found a workable solution. This definitely works for us. We’ll have access to electronics on all legs of our flight except for the return Istanbul-US leg. We will be checking the devices at the gate. The willingness of the ME airlines (including THY) to find solutions around the illogical ban made us even more committed to flying these affected airlines. From now on, we’ll look for flights from these airlines first, and opt for other airlines only if THY or Emirates don’t have a service to our destination (rarely the case).

  26. I had my ‘power bank’ confiscated at the boarding gate in Istanbul last night, en route to London. This is a new one on me – seems that according to Turkish all power banks are banned, even in the hold. Having searched on line this morning, I can find no reference to power bank ban. $90 down the drain.. I gave the guy the lead as well, so someone might use it – rather than it be thrown away. Maybe his cousin has a nice new power bank now. So be warned fellow travellers…

  27. I flew TK79 from Istanbul to SFO. I tried to convinced my wife to check a bag and put IPad in, but convinced me it was going to be easier to hand check it, not have any baggage and go carry on.
    Biggest mistake! Do not do it if you can. I started to realize it when process of checking in the IPAD was a nightmare. The guy behind me had a tiny little Kindle and they made him drop it off.
    After customs a 100 of us queued up by baggage and waited over an hour to see our devices. They didn’t tell you that there is a secondary screening of these items. So expect to wait an hour or 2 to get your little devices back.
    Shame on TSA, Homeland and the airlines for this mess.

  28. Does TK also handle SLR cameras with multiple lenses and other special camera equipment at the gate or only small cameras, laptops and tablets?

    Do they already give any devices to business class pessangers?


  29. I flew from Bangkok via Istanbul back to the UK last week. Whilst I accept the rules on Laptops etc I really dont understand why the power bank was confiscated. I had a small power bank in my hand luggage and as it didnt fit through a slot in a piece of plastic at the gate desk, It was not allowed on the plane. They were collecting power banks from many travelers for disposal. In fact one passenger had just purchased his from duty free only to have it confiscated at the gate. Ridiculous situation but beware.

  30. Also happened to me today flying back from KL through Istanbul to London (transfer flights). They took everyone’s power banks! Mine was a cheapo one but still, it is completely unnecessary and no one told anyone before, especially when doing a transfer flight! So stupid and I’m sure they are just selling them off on the streets! Thousands must be taken each day!

  31. This ban is preposterous, does not keep us safer, just hassles the consumer. I flew from Prague to US via Istanbul with Turkish Air. The entire flight went through four additional security screenings including an extensive body check and pat down, and a thorough search of carry on belongings.

    Upon entering NYC -JFK, the line to receive electronics was about 2 hours long, as there were only two agents and 7 trunks of equipment. It took nearly 3 hours to get out of the airport.

    The ban is a form of economic warfare punishing the middle east to keep US business money out of Turkey, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

  32. So I’m traveling to Turkey on a work visa and Im planning on taking my electronics. I’m coming from the US. I was thinking that upon my return, instead of flying out directly from Istanbul to the US, I could travel to another country such as Spain, and then fly to the US. Do you know I would still have to check in my electronics since I would still have my Turkish visa in my passport? Airline security is so paranoid and ridiculous, you just never know.

  33. Am i right in assuming that in the case of flying to the UK with a stopover in Istanbul then TK will only confiscate electronics on the last leg which lands in the UK ? Or do they take it away right at the beginning of the journey which is BKK?

  34. About a dozen years ago, they had this nonsense about laptops, and used some common sense. At luggage check, we were asked to start up our laptops to get Windows and once that happened, it was deemed OK, in that it had a real battery in it and not a bomb.

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