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Electronics Ban for flights from 8 countries

Discussion in 'New Blog Posts' started by tmount, Mar 21, 2017.

  1. tmount

    tmount Administrator


    The biggest news this week is the Electronics Ban that requires passengers flying from 8 countries to stow any electronics larger than a smartphone in their checked bags. It has the potential to dramatically change air travel to the US from those 8 countries, two of which have the 3 largest Middle Eastern carriers. Hours later, the United Kingdom came out with a similar yet more specific ban.

    Details about the US Electronics Ban

    The electronics ban states that electronic devices larger than a cellphone or smartphone will not be carry-ons for flights departing from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa.

    The ban affects 10 airports:

    • Amman, Jordan’s Queen Alia International Airport (AMM)
    • Cairo, Egypt’s Cairo International Airport (CAI)
    • Istanbul, Turkey’s Ataturk International Airport (IST)
    • Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED)
    • Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s King Khalid International Airport (RUH)
    • Kuwait’s International Airport (KWI)
    • Casablanca, Morocco’s Mohammed V Airport (CMN)
    • Doha, Qatar’s Hamad International Airport (DOH)
    • Dubai, United Arab Emirates’ Dubai International Airport (DXB)
    • Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates’ Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)

    So, what specifically can’t you bring? Any electronic that isn’t a smartphone, cellphone, or medical device. For example:

    • Laptops
    • Cameras
    • eReaders
    • Tablets
    Details about the UK Electronics Ban

    The UK Electronics Ban is more specific in that it bans electronic devices bigger than: 16cm x 9.3cm by 1.5cm in the cabin or carry-on bags from the following countries:

    • Turkey
    • Lebanon
    • Egypt
    • Saudi Arabia
    • Jordan
    • Tunisia

    This is a much more specified restriction as compared to the US one.

    Impact of the Electronics Ban

    Obviously the near-term impact is a lot of confusion and frustration. But there are wider concerns here. For instance, we know that lithium-ion batteries are generally not safe to have in the baggage hold. The FAA even has a directive stating as much. This is a huge concern, as we’ve seen in numerous cases what can happen.

    My Initial Thoughts

    I think its interesting that one of these airports has a US Customs Pre-Clearance Facility (AUH), which of course already has enhanced security compared to most of the other airports. I wonder if that is a sign that the Pre-Clearance Facility may not stick around.

    I also don’t like the idea that I could now be flying on a plane with enough lithium-ion devices to cause a diversion or worse, sitting unmonitored in the baggage hold. I think this is a very real concern, and I sincerely hope that someone will be monitoring and reporting on how many aircraft have incidents related to this electronics ban, should it stand.

    That all said, the fact that the United Kingdom jumped on the ban wagon so quickly, and so much more specifically gives me pause. I still think that forcing large lithium batteries to be stowed in checked bags presents a danger, but, I’d imagine that the intelligence is indicating that there is some greater danger.

    Finally, my thoughts this morning on the topic are tempered this evening as I finish writing this post. They are tempered because the United Kingdom’s electronics ban lends legitimacy. Could that just be a strategy? Yes, but, what if its not? and why is the United Kingdom’s so much more narrow–and essentially, impacting fewer major hubs–is it better intelligence? A tempered hand? who knows.

    What do you think of the Electronics ban?

    Continue reading...
  2. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    This affects me directly on a long flight back from South Africa. Well, this isn't until Sept, but I'm worried now.

    I don't think many people are actually going to stow their expensive electronics in the cargo bay. Not unless there is better security or guarantees from the airlines when a loss occurs. Folks know better than to do this now, or should. The reasons not too haven't changed.

    Looked up quickly the possibility of shipping stuff home. FedEx is way too expensive. And there there is still the issue of flying for 10+13 hours with no videos or tablet-based books.

    I might be able to switch to a different flight routed through a non-listed city. Well, I can. But I lose $$$s (looks like $270 + a non-refundable staging flight becomes potentially wasted at another $400 - both figures for 2 passengers) and what happens if they expand this ban and I'm no better off? I'll keep scheming but I'll wait a bit longer to see what happens.

    Can't get annoyed and drive home from this one!
  3. Suzie

    Suzie Level 2 Member

    The ban affects me too. We will be flying DOH-PHL in a couple of weeks. A quick check of other flights did not reveal any appealing options.

    Qatar's website has the following statement:

    "Qatar Airways has made special arrangements to assist passengers in securing their devices in the aircrafts' baggage hold. Prohibited devices - including but not limited to laptops, tablets, DVD players and electronic games - must be carried in checked luggage only."

    I will be calling them in a few days once the dust has settled to find out exactly what this means.

    If there is a credible threat, I want to know that the US is taking whatever action is necessary based on their intel to keep passengers safe, however, this does not seem like a viable, sustainable solution.

    Will be monitoring. In the meantime, I will be heading to the bookstore to buy a paperback. And postcards at my destination.
  4. smittytabb

    smittytabb Moderator Staff Member

    Yeah, impacts me as well for a trip in the fall. A lot could change in the coming weeks and months. I think everything will be in flux in the future, so I would not make changes based upon the current rules as they could end up being more broadly applied. Travel and tourism will be impacted in ways that will play out over time and it is difficult to predict as the dominoes fall.
  5. Suzie

    Suzie Level 2 Member

    Spoke to the Director of the PHL passport office yesterday and asked him about electronics ban. Specifically if he thought it might "go away" quickly (in time for our trip to Jordan and Qatar next week). His response was that he expected the ban to become more comprehensive.

    Just passing along one individual's opinion.
  6. Suzie

    Suzie Level 2 Member

    Called Qatar this morning and asked what the "special arrangements" are for electronics. The response was that if you check a bag - they encourage you to put your electronic device in the checked bag. If you are not checking a bag, they will gate check your device. Wrap it in bubble wrap and place in a sealed bag that you will collect at your US destination. We will be checking a bag, most likely just one for the two of us - so one of us should be able to gate check the electronics. Or the fact that we are flying business should get special courtesy? I hope.
  7. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    That sounds better than putting it all in a checked bag ... too many switches in transport and hands-on before it even gets to the plane when checking at the counter. Gate checking limits who has access and the time it is exposed. The wrappings add a sense of security, but I wonder if that is real ... you're also marking it as "there is something in here!". I'd still have it wrapped :). This sounds better now. Hopefully the in-flight entertainment is ok.

    You'll let us know how it all works out. Right?
  8. Suzie

    Suzie Level 2 Member


    I'm guessing a lot will change before your flight.
  9. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    Yes. That's what scares me! Will work with whatever happens ...

    Update: I've still been thinking about switching the flight. The alternate I found (which WAS NOT available when I originally booked) has the inconvenience of leaving way too early in the morning. But we could do it. Overall, it's a much quicker set of 2 flights, which will be a huge benefit without personal electronics. On the other hand, starting at 7am, there really isn't an option to sleep away much of the flight. We will see ... no hurry for now.
  10. Suzie

    Suzie Level 2 Member

    Here's my firsthand experience this week flying with the electronics ban from Doha to PHL on Qatar in J.

    A few days before leaving PHL, I called Qatar to inquire about their policy. I was told that they were making accommodations to gate check electronics. The items would be bubble wrapped, boxed and tagged, and then hand placed in a special location in cargo hold.

    When we arrived at the J check-in counter in Doha, I informed the agent that we had two cameras and two e-readers to gate check. She looked at me like I had two heads and told me "that wasn't possible" and that they must be placed in the checked baggage. I explained what I had been told by Qatar in the states and asked if she was sure there wasn't another "possibility." She was adamant and told us to take our luggage aside and to pack our electronics in the checked bag.

    As we were doing so, I grabbed the 300 mm lens and went back to the counter to inquire if I could at least take the lens in my carry-on. At that point a supervisor, with a very fine British accent, approached and said he understood that I had concerns about my camera equipment.

    I again explained that we were told that we would be able to gate check. He replied that "yes, that was possible." Well, okay. But then he followed with "it is probably better to put in your checked luggage." I told him I wasn't comfortable with that, and he asked if I was referring to damage. I hesitated and then said "not just damage, but theft also." He said "I hope you don't mean on our end - there are thousands of cameras here." Uncomfortable pause . . . to which I replied "no - in general."

    When I asked how we would retrieve our electronics in PHL - he said he didn't know, no one had asked him that before. So he made a call and assured me that someone on the other end would be handling the electronics and that we would need our receipt to retrieve. He said not many people gate check (wrong) and that it would be an easy process.

    After an hour in a very unimpressive J lounge, we head to the gate. Pandemonium. 2:00 am full A350 flight. They had a separate desk to gate check. They took all 4 items (minus the 300 mm lens that they deemed okay) and wrapped them together in a too small piece of bubble wrap. They then placed the wrapped items in a too big box (so that the items were moving around the box). Taped the box and affixed the label we had to fill out and gave us a receipt. They then put the box in a plastic bag and secured it with a plastic wire tie.

    We then had to go through a separate gate security with full xray screening. Brouhaha with security agents over the lens. I put on my best deer in the headlights look until they finally decided I was too daft to be a security threat and let me take the lens.

    So . . . 13 hours later I retrieve my "box" after presenting my receipt. The box was delivered bouncing along on the baggage carousel along with all the checked luggage. Ugh.

    Good news - the e readers are working and I believe that the camera is okay also. So no harm, no foul except for the stress.
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  11. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    What a mess. We still haven't heard anything new about this being expanded more universally. I still have 5 months until my trip, but I am still watching for an alternate route.
  12. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    I guess it's old news, but I just heard of it last night. The Electronics ban might be expanding to all European flights? Laptops and Tablets are one thing. I'm still worried about my camera equipment. One of a couple of links I found via google:
  13. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    Has anyone had experience with this ban as far as amplifying/noise canceling headphones are concerned? I've got a somewhat bulky set but they work great for amplifying AND canceling out outside noise, part of this is no doubt the bulky ear covers. Would these be included as banned devices?

    I am still scheming for our trip back from Africa, via Cairo, at the end of September.

    A guy at work had a great suggestion - buy a couple of $50 Android tablets to use just for the trip. Pack them (less memory cards) and if they get stolen, oh well. I've got 2 cheap tablets in my possession now I'm testing for just this purpose. I see no reason why this won't work well.

    Cameras are still a big question mark. Can't really go cheap here so I'm still scratching my head.

    The cheap tablets don't seem to have much volume to them, making a workable headset solution even more critical. So. Are we safe taking our bulky regulars, or should I get a tiny inline amplifiers (previous one didn't work so well) and suffer with ear buds?

  14. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    Found this. I'm sure there are other articles and I will find them. But this just continues to compound my headache:


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