Published: Fri, March 31, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

US And UK Ban Cabin Laptops On Some Inbound Flights

The U.S. government is ordering passengers on nonstop, U.S. -bound flights from a handful of mostly Middle Eastern and North African countries to pack electronic devices other than cellphones in their checked baggage.

March 22 (ANI): The United Kingdom has joined the United States in banning passengers on flights on some countries in the Middle East and Africa from carrying electronic devices such as laptops and tablets in the cabin.

The DHS said the ban would "remain in place until the threat (that caused the ban) changes". In essence, all the devices which are larger than a mobile phone can not be carried on-board and instead will have to be in checked baggage.

The US ban will hit flights operated by Royal Jordanian, EgyptAir, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways.

Turkey's transport minister, Ahmet Arslan, criticized the banTuesday, telling reporters in Ankara that it was not "beneficial" for passengers and that Turkey already has stringent security measures in place, according to Turkey's semi-official Anadolu news agency.

He told the Press Association: "If there is indeed reliable intelligence of a credible threat that an improvised explosive device can be concealed within a consumer electronic device, then the question has to be how do we mitigate that risk for all aircraft leaving all destinations right across the board". The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the security ban despite President Donald Trump's repeated insistence that anonymous source should not be trusted.

Another U.S. official says the ban on some electronics is considered to be related to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or AQAP. An aviation official said that there is a security concern regarding passengers boarding nonstop flights to the USA from specific countries.

Passengers who usually travel with electronic devices are advised to contact their insurance companies before travelling as some insurers warned that laptops and tablets are not typically covered by policies for loss, damage or theft if they are placed in the hold.

Turkish government on Wednesday sent a letter to the USA administration demanding removal from the ban list, one day after the new security policy carried out by the US and Britain.

Passengers can still carry smartphones into the plane's cabin, but nothing larger, officials from the two countries added. The officials said no US -based airlines have nonstop flights from those cities to the United States.

So far six United Kingdom airlines and eight foreign carriers are affected, including British Airways, Easy Jet, Jet2, Monarch, Thomas Cook and Thomson. "They are also requested to inform airport check-in staff of any prohibited devices- which are still in their possession- in order to be put in their checked baggage", it added.

The moves were prompted by reports that militant groups want to smuggle explosive devices inside electronic gadgets, United States officials told reporters on a conference call on Monday. Airlines will be responsible for policing the cabin ban, and if they fail to do so could lose their rights to operate US routes.

The 10 worldwide airports covered by the ban are in Cairo, Egypt; Dubai and Abu Dhabi in UAE, Istanbul in Turkey; Doha, Qatar; Amman, Jordan; Kuwait City; Casablanca, Morocco; and Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

However, the tightened measures contain loopholes large enough for a determined terrorist to exploit, reports Slate's Joshua Keating "Why couldn't someone plotting such an attack simply take a connecting flight through another airport?" he writes.

USA president Donald Trump has attempted to introduce a travel ban aimed at people from Muslim-majority countries, which has run into trouble in the U.S. courts.

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