BREAKING: UK To Announce Ban On In-Flight Electronics As Well

Filed Under: Security/TSA

Update: See more details on the UK version of the ban here.

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.

Etihad-Arrivals-Lounge-Abu-Dhabi - 1

The BBC is now reporting that the U.K. will institute a similar in-flight electronics ban. The U.K. is expected to announce a similar ban on laptops and other electronics shortly, though it remains to be seen how it will differ — it’s possible that the U.K. will have different restrictions, include different countries, etc.

It sure looks like air travel is about to get really, really bad…


At this point there are a lot more questions than answers. Unfortunately I doubt we’ll get many answers as to what’s going on here since the DHS is unlikely to comment on the “threats” (which is fair enough, as much as many of us would like to understand the logic).

However, a lot of us are calling into question the logic of this policy. What makes these airports more dangerous than others, especially when Abu Dhabi has a U.S. Pre-Clearance facility with additional security, which is arguably better than the screening at most other airports? Passengers can take electronics on an Emirates flight from Dubai to Milan to New York, but not from Dubai to New York nonstop, or on the Abu Dhabi to New York nonstop flight that uses the Pre-Clearance facility?

There’s no denying that this has the potential to cripple the Gulf carriers, given that their business model relies entirely on connecting passengers between other regions. No one will choose to fly through a region where they can’t take electronics onboard. I can’t imagine how bad this is for the future bookings of the “big three” Gulf carriers.

Back in the day the liquids ban was also introduced as a temporary restriction, even though many of us still wonder about the logic of that. Please, please, please don’t let this ban be permanent… this really has the potential to change travel for a lot of us.

(Tip of the hat to @jamesryan1987)

  1. This is bad.. Not only for business travellers, but for travel writers such as yourself, and other blogs like flytertalk, flight-report.. Geez

  2. Have gotten so use to keeping movies on notebook, where I can watch uninterrupted by flight crew, don’t know if I am willing to part with it. Sure I occasionally do work with it also, but usually flights are ME time. Business and first will certainly be even less crowded.
    Good time to short the airlines ?

  3. So the U.K. is now on the Muslim ban train by the logic over here. Or could it possibly be that there is a terror threat?
    Couldn’t be, because we all know every trump policy is to target muslims. /s

  4. If it’s only for flights originating in those countries, then maybe there’s a credible threat from inside the local security apparatus. Maybe ISIS has infiltrated those airports by placing terrorists in security jobs, baggage handling etc.

  5. Will this affect on flights operated by western airlines? say BA from DXB to LHR
    For US airlines there’s no such concern since they are not operating nonstop flights from listed airports.

  6. Does this mean US airlines have to abide by these measures as well when departing from these airports? If they do fly to these airports.

  7. Given that even previously ‘safe’ countries like Qatar and the UAE are on the US list, will the UK include them too, and then what about UK bound flights from Bahrain, Oman, Algeria etc? Are they going to be on the list ,or are they now regarded as “safer” than UAE flights? Seems illogical and incoherent regardless of the true threats.

  8. My husband, who works for a major international corporation, is banned by company policy to check his laptop in the hold because of the data it contains. If he’s ever in a situation where he can’t take his carry-on on a plane, he is required to remove his laptop and carry it by hand onto the plane while checking his bags. I know his is not the only company by far to require this, so this absolutely cripples business travelers.

  9. It will affect Emirates, Etihad and Qatar. US carriers obviously only are able to compete with gulf carriers, when there is this kind of governmental restrictions. Its protectionism in my eyes.

  10. This doesn’t seem like a Muslim ban after all since the UK is also adopting it and you know Trump and is goons are not smart enough to think of this clever ploy on their own.

    I agree that the ban makes no sense at all, unless they think that people could use laptops to hack the flight controls. Maybe that’s the chatter they picked up.

    Lucky and Tiffany, what about writing a post about traveling under these new restrictions. I can travel without a laptop but would hate to leave my camera at home. If checking it in, how do I minimize the chances of it being stolen? (I read to try to camouflage it and buy travel insurance to protect it.)

    The only reason I’m thinking (hoping?) this may be a temporary band is because it’s limited to specific locales, whereas the liquid ban and shoes and all that was applied to everywhere.

  11. I think its a good thing! I never really liked the middle eastern carriers anyways. This way other carriers will be able to turn more profits.

  12. @ Charlie McMillan — If there are terrorists in security jobs and baggage handling positions, then how is it any safer to have electronics in the hold?

  13. The hacking theory doesn’t really add up. A cell “phone” nowadays is just as capable as most laptops. And it’s more than just laptops. Cameras, e readers… it’s based on size, which seems to point to some kind of fear of a bomb. Maybe one big enough to take down the plane, or just open the cockpit door?

    Whatever it is the one thing we know is that we’ll never really know what the threat is.

  14. “No one will choose to fly through a region where they can’t take electronics onboard.”

    Do all that many people bring laptops on board?

    Sure some biz travelers will be inconvenienced in a big way, and that hurts $$, but in terms of % of passengers – I can’t imagine it’s more than 25% on a given flight.

  15. It’s a response to the guy in Somalia that used a ‘laptop bomb’ to blow a hole out the side of the plane. I’ll take a few hours without a device if it keeps me safer. Perspective.

  16. Where does this leave connecting passengers? If they can carry their laptops if they connect through Europe but not if they connect through the Middle East they will connect in Europe. As the ME3 depend heavily on connecting traffic especially from the Indian subcontinent if the connecting traffic moves to European airlines this affects them. The Europeans will soon come on board with this ban as it helps their Airlines to compete.

  17. I don’t see how my tiny e-reader is a threat to anyone. I couldn’t even bludgeon someone with it in any sort of effective way…

  18. People keep talking about latops but this appears to cover ipads as well. I always have my ipad when i fly for internet and reading. Others use ipads for film. The article says all electronics except phone and medical device. This is absurd.

  19. May not all travelers will bring laptops onboard, but how about iPad or Android tablets? eReaders? or something as basic as Cameras? Business travelers want to do work on the laptop, leisure travelers likes to take pictures.

    I guess Back to the drawing board (or notebooks)? Definitely not a convenient thing especially if people don’t usually travel with a checked bag already.

  20. What about external chargers/power banks? Are those considered electronics? They’re basically just a battery with some ports attached, and it really doesn’t seem like something you could check.

  21. Oh no, it’s not just the US? Maybe time to throttle back your ignorant rants about how nonsensical the US admin is?

  22. @greg I’d gladly wager $100 that every Emirates, Etihad and Qatar flight currently en route to the U.S. has at least 1.5 soon-to-be banned item per passenger in the cabin. Our family of 4 usually travels with 7-10. Only 2 or 3 of those are likely to be used in flight, but they stay with us because we don’t want them to be lost, stolen or damaged, and because checked bags are a waste of time and a disaster when you have multiple connections

  23. I just had to buy a new iPad before my family fly back to the UK next week! Almost all kids have something on flights these days. Younger ones will be harder to keep happy now so those who don’t like noisy kids are going to have a hard time!
    I guess when my family return to DOH from LHR they will be allowed the iPad? Just not the other way around!

  24. It’s not about the % of customers impacted. Emirates in particular (like most western airlines) makes the vast majority of its profits from business travelers. Etihad and Qatar also profit largely from premium classes but to a lesser extent from business travelers. These are people who need to work on flights and already choose partly based on wifi availability. If they can’t bring laptops, they will absolutely stop choosing to fly via the ME3. This will hurt their business more than it will impact safety.

  25. I just don’t get the logic of banning these items from the cabin but allowing them in checked luggage – it can’t be processing capability as modern phones have plenty of that. If it’s a physical bomb then what difference does it make whether it’s in the cabin or the hold? In what way can hold luggage be screened any more effectively?

  26. Just give up on travelling, because it going to be one expensive flight when you land and you find out your laptop is gone because it has been stollen.

  27. Yeah WR nobody is claiming the UK isn’t run by a nonsensical moronic bunch either. Just the chimps in the USA fling more faeces around their cage.

    If it’s bombs then i’m not sure how or why putting it in check in luggage is going to stop anyone with malintentions….
    What happened to not allowing lithium ion batteries in the hold?

  28. UK list is different than the US list. The PM announced that the list includes the following countries: Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. So in this case the big three aren’t effected, neither is the significant amount of travel between the UK and Morocco. The biggest hit it looks like from this list is turkey.

    In the US ban, US based airlines are not flying to those countries so some people had said that it could be economically motivated. Since BA alone flies to almost all of these places that are now in the UK ban, I would suspect there are larger motives. This seems to specific and widespread at the same time not to be linked to something.

  29. Doha News saying UAE & Qatar not affected. But it’s all airlines flying to the banned ones including BA, EasyJet etc so the impact will be huge

  30. I love the way everyone is an expert. “If it’s bombs then i’m not sure how or why putting it in check in luggage is going to stop anyone with malintentions….”

    Im sure they have a good reason for this….and if all goes to plan and they do stop something bad happening then we will never know about it.

  31. We only traveling internationally for pleasure. We carry camera equipment and every night we put all pictures and video on our laptop. So this affects more than just business travelers (tho I feel bad for them too). It just seems so crazy.

  32. @Tiffany – Because if there’s intelligence that shows that people are wanting to use their laptops to somehow intercept the software within the cockpit, then maybe they couldn’t do it as easily if the laptop were in the hold. Maybe terminal security workers at these 10 airports have become infiltrated with terrorists, but not baggage workers. Despite your insistence that this is “nonsensical”, maybe you don’t and will never have all the facts. If my plane arrives safely, I can go without complaining about inconvenience for 10 hours without my first choice of movie reruns.

  33. I would impose the same ban originating fro US to whole EU, I sense that idiocracy is serious threat to EU.

  34. @Tim That *could* make sense, if they weren’t banning Kindles, portable video game consoles, and cameras too.

  35. @Tim

    The problem is not simply the time without your electronics. The problem is getting to your destination and not having them in your checked luggage. I’ve add expensive clothes stolen from my luggage in the past. Imagine cameras, laptops and or valuable stuff…

  36. Keep on speculating, you will be glad when you arrive alive. I’m not taking any chances, I can live without my electronics and the risk that they might be stolen if it means I’m going to arrive alive.

  37. The entire purpose of this ban is to hit the Middle East big three airlines and to slow them down in the US. Since Emirates, Qatar and Etihad are growing and adding more destinations from/to the US; American, Delta and United cannot compete. Their products and services are terrible compared to the ME big 3.
    Therefore, if you can’t beat them… well then ban them. I would imagine this was the result of the meeting from Delta, United and American CEOs with Trump. They would think that passengers would rather fly US carriers instead of ME carriers if they get to keep their laptops on the plane. However, I would much rather fly Etihad without my laptop than United with my laptop and shoes on. 🙂

  38. Just give your laptop, iPad, or camera to a needy person before you go, otherwise, it will be stolen by ground crews. You certainly will never see it again if you check it.

  39. To think that this could be an economic or political ploy by the U.S or U.K government’s is not unreasonable especially considering the really unusual times we are living in today’s world. But what if is not? What makes no sense to us may make perfect sense to the intelligence experts that are more aware of the dangers we face. My point is this. Are we really wiling to risk our families lives if we are wrong?

  40. I can see this slowing down Security checks at the airport – there will be people whose flight allows them to take their laptop, etc on board going through the same security line as those whose travel plans forbid it. This means a boarding pass review at the head of the line to ascertain which category you fall into and a different checking procedure because of it. I can see this making the security checks much longer. My last trip to the far east was on Qatar; fortunately my next one is with Cathay

  41. The Ban will affect travelers with laptops who don’t want to check luggage. Ben – looks like big impact t you – no laptop on those long gulf carrier flights.

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