US to ban electronics bigger than cell phones from certain flights

21 Mar 2017

Image: ilikestudio/Shutterstock

Airlines flying to the US from certain countries will require passengers to check in almost all electronics bigger than a cell phone.

A new requirement from the Department of Homeland Security will see passengers travelling on airlines from eight nations banned from bringing laptops, iPads, Kindles and cameras aboard flights.

Instead, owners of the devices must check their devices in with their baggage.

The new rules dictate that passengers travelling from 10 airports in eight countries in the Middle East and north Africa will be required to check any device larger than a cell phone.

According to The New York Times, the new policy took effect at 7am IST, and must be followed within 96 hours by airlines flying to the US from Amman, Jordan; Cairo, Egypt; Istanbul, Turkey; Jeddah and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia; Kuwait City; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

Medical devices are exempted from the rule.

The ban does not affect American airline carriers.

Check your gadgets

Both Royal Jordanian Airlines and Saudi Airlines tweeted that US authorities ordered the directive for passengers travelling from 13 nations. Royal Jordanian Airlines deleted its tweet after it had been live for eight hours.

Just like with the Trump administration’s attempt to implement a travel ban in recent months, the new directive is likely to cause confusion. Airline staff who carry electronic flight bags, and cabin crew, are unclear whether they are included in the new rules.

US to ban electronics bigger than cell phones from certain flights

It is understood that instructions from the TSA were relayed to the Saudi interior ministry.

The new directive has its origins in a 2014 request by the Homeland Security Department to step up security on flights to the US, requiring tougher screening of mobile phones and other electronics, requiring them to be powered up before boarding.

Updated, 10.22am, 21 March 2016: This article was updated following an official announcement from the US Department of Homeland Security.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years