Mar. 21, 2017
The US is barring passengers from bringing laptops, tablet computers, and other electronic devices as carry-on items on nonstop flights from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa.
The ban was revealed Monday after two Middle Eastern airlines began telling passengers about the new restrictions. A representative of Saudi Arabian Airlines, based at JFK International Airport in New York, told BuzzFeed News that the ban begins immediately, and covers all electronic devices, excluding cell phones. The airline said the ban applies on flights headed to the US.
On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security released a statement on the new policy, stating the “2015 airliner downing in Egypt, the 2016 attempted airliner downing in Somalia, and the 2016 armed attacks against airports in Brussels and Istanbul” as examples of why increased security was needed.
“Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation and are aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items. Based on this information, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Transportation Security Administrator Acting Administrator Huban Gowadia have determined it is necessary to enhance security procedures for passengers at certain last point of departure airports to the United States,” the statement said.
The department said airlines would have 96 hours to comply with the new rules and the ban would remain in place until “the threat changes.”
Here’s the list of every major air travel hub that is affected by the ban:
- Hamad International Airport, Doha, Qatar
- Dubai International Airport, UAE
- Abu Dhabi International Airport, UAE
- Ataturk International Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
- Queen Alia International Airport, Amman, Jordan
- Cairo International Airport, Egypt
- King Abdul Aziz International Airport, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
- King Khalid International Airport, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
- Mohammed V Airport, Casablanca, Morocco
- Kuwait International Airport, Kuwait
All these countries are US allies, many of them crucial ones: Turkey is a NATO member, Egypt is the second-largest recipient of American military aid, and Qatar hosts the forward operating headquarters of the US Central Command. Dubai’s airport is the world’s busiest for international passenger traffic, while Abu Dhabi’s is so trusted that US customs and immigration checks are conducted there.
The devices banned from the cabin will need to be packed in checked baggage. Former officials said the use of certain electronic devices in the flight cabin has presented a longstanding threat, but some questioned why action is being taken now.
Examples of large electronic devices that will not be allowed in the cabin on affected flights include laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, electronic gaming units larger than a smartphone, and travel printers/scanners.