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US bans carry-on tablets, laptops and cameras if you’re flying from the Middle East

If you’re flying long haul soon, here’s some bad news for you. The United States will be implementing a carry-on ban for most electronic devices as part of its TSA emergency amendment. This largely affects flights entering the US through the Middle East and Northen Africa.

The new security order will affect over 50 daily flights that are operating from the following airports:

Jordan’s Queen Alia International
Egypt’s Cairo International
Turkey’s Istanbul Ataturk
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz International
Saudi Arabia’s King Khalid International
Kuwait International
Qatar’s Doha International
Morocco’s Mohammed V Airport
Dubai International
Abu Dhabi International

The Middle East is an important air travel hub as it connects Asia Pacific to Europe and the US. There are 9 airlines flying between those airports to the US, namely Royal Jordanian, EgyptAir, Turkish Airlines, Saudia, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways. In case you’re wondering, there are no US airlines flying from those airports.

It was reported that these airlines have up to 96 hours to comply, failing of which the FAA could revoke their certificate which could lead to a total ban. Without mentioning specific threats, the ban apparently was decided based on intelligence which indicates a potential use of consumer electronics to hide explosives.

It is worth mentioning that the ban only affects electronic devices that are larger than your smartphone and flights flying out from the US to these airports will not be affected. As a result, you’ll need to check-in your laptop, camera, ebook readers, gaming consoles, tablets and other electronic equipment that are bigger than your smartphone.

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To impose such restrictions would not only be inconvenient but it comes with potential risks. As most electronics rely on batteries, any issue which could lead to fire can be attended to quickly if the affected device is in the cabin instead of the cargo hold. With more passengers checking-in their valuable electronics, there’s also a security concern when it comes to luggage handling. We expect airlines to issue guidelines to comply with this new restriction.


Alexander Wong