Yesterday, the US department of homeland security (DHS) announced it would ban large electronic devices, including laptops, from flights coming from the Middle East and North Africa.
The UK has followed suit, choosing to ban certain devices on flights coming into the UK from countries including Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Why has the device ban been enforced?
According to a statement by the DHS, the US government is concerned about terrorists targeting commercial flights coming into the US.
“Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items.”
The 2015 attack that downed a flight in Egypt, the attempt airliner downing that took place in Somalia in 2016 and the armed attacks in airports which took place last year in Istanbul and Brussels were used as justification for the ban.
It is a year today since the attack in Brussels when 32 people were killed as a result of bombing at the city’s metro stations and airport.
US sources told ABC that the so-called Islamic State group (ISIS) has been working on ways to smuggle explosives on to planes by hiding them in electronics.
The UK says it is privy to the same information as the US, which is why it has decided to enforce the ban too.
What devices have been banned?
The ban relates to carry-on items. Passengers cannot bring laptops, tablets, kindles and cameras onto flights in their hand luggage, instead, they are advised to stow them in their suitcases which will go into the main hold of the plane.
The ban excludes mobile phones and smartphones, as well as medical devices.
Which countries are included in the ban?
What is interesting about the two bans is that though they have been enforced as a result of the same information reportedly, different countries are including in the US and UK bans respectively.
In the US, flights from Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates are all subject to the ban.
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None of the countries included in the device ban were subject to Trump’s travel ban, which attempted to block citizens and refugees from Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.
The travel ban was enforced to prevent terrorism and was criticised at the time for targeting the specific countries and not Saudi Arabia, the country of origin for those involved in the 9/11 attacks.
In the UK, flights coming from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey are included in the new device ban.
Which airlines will be affected?
In the US, there is a total of nine airlines covered by the ban. These are: EgyptAir, Emirates and Etihad Airways, Kuwait Airlines, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian, Saudia Arabian Airlines and Turkish Airlines.
In the UK, flights from the specific countries on airlines including British Airways and EasyJet will be affected by the ban.
A BA spokesperson told Verdict:
“Following an announcement by the UK Government we are advising customers departing from affected airports to arrive in good time at check-in and refer to ba.com for the latest information. Our flights continue to operate as normal.”
EasyJet has confirmed that it will enforce the ban on flights travelling from Egypt and Turkey in line with the new regulations.
A spokesperson for the budget airline told Verdict:
“We advise passengers to go to Bag Drop to check in any electronic items into their hand luggage. All passengers are advised to leave additional time to get to the airport and we recommend that passengers do not bring large personal electronic devices if possible.
“The safety and security of its passengers and crew is the airline’s highest priority.”
The new measures won’t have much of an impact on the airline. On average, there are between one and three flights from the affected countries each week, so only a small proportion of EasyJet’s passengers will be subject to the ban.
An Emirates spokeswoman told Reuters the airline understood the US ban would begin on 25 March and remain in effect until 14 October 2017.
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