A new ban set by the U.S. government just made it a bit more difficult for travellers to move to and and from countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
Going into effect on March 21, the ban states that passengers on direct flights to the U.S. from one of the 10 specified airports in eight countries will no longer be allowed to bring any electronic devices other than phones into the passenger cabin with them. All larger electronics, including laptops, tablets and iPads, must now be placed in checked luggage for the duration of the flight (which isn’t great news if you want your electronics back in one piece).
The new ban will influence approximately 50 daily flights into the U.S. leaving from Amman, Jordan; Kuwait City, Kuwait; Cairo; Istanbul; Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar as well as Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Senior Trump administrators who announced the ban this week say that airlines have 96 hours to comply with the new rules or their planes may be denied entry to the U.S.
U.S. officials are saying the ban was prompted after evaluating intelligence, explaining that moving electronics into checked luggage will help alleviate potential threats to airplanes landing on American soil.
The U.K. has quickly decided to follow suit, announcing they’ll also ban laptops and large electronics from carry on baggage on flights arriving from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.
The U.S. and Britain are both blaming increased terrorist threats as the motivation behind the ban, citing ‘laptop bombs’ as possible weapons on planes.
Aviation expert Jeffrey Price says the new ban will likely cause an increase in thefts and damage to personal electronics, and even open the device up to the potential of being hacked. “There would be a huge disadvantage to having everyone put their electronics in checked baggage,” says Price.
The new laws are also sure to cause some headaches for business travellers and students who need to work while travelling. Professor Banu Akdenizli, who teaches at Northwestern University’s Doha campus and is travelling to the U.S. in April, says the new ban will have a negative impact on professionals. “This is a 20-hour flight. I think as an academic or any business traveller, the function of a work flight is to be able to work on it, especially if you’re going to a conference.”
Those travellers affected by the ban should back up their devices before travelling, as well as encrypting any sensitive data. Getting a lock and password for personal devices are also important, as the new ban means laptops and tablets will be more susceptible to theft.
While some airlines, including Royal Jordanian, have begun alerting their customers to the ban, other airport officials, including those at the Cairo International Airport, say they have yet to be briefed on the new U.S. requirements.
Attention all passengers ⚠️ pic.twitter.com/HCNDcjcdi1
— Royal Jordanian (@RoyalJordanian) March 21, 2017
Looks like workers at the TSA are about to start an impressive collection of laptops.