UK follows US ban on electronic devices on some flights
The UK government says mobile phones, laptops and tablet devices over a certain size will not be allowed on some flights into the UK.
The “changes to aviation security measures” will impact passengers entering the UK on flight from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tunisia.
The Department of Transport says it has been in “close contact” with officials in the US since a similar ban was imposed earlier this week.
Any device over 16cm in length, 9.3cm width and 1.5cm depth will not be allowed in an aircraft’s cabin if it originates in the six aforementioned countries.
A statement says:
“We understand the frustration that these measures may cause and we are working with the aviation industry to minimise any impact.
“Our top priority will always be to maintain the safety of British nationals. These new measures apply to flights into the UK and we are not currently advising against flying to and from those countries.”
The UK government says most smartphones “fall within these limits [dimensions] and will continue to be allowed on board”.
The GBTA has responded to the US ban.
It says in a statement:
“Nearly half (49%) of business travelers prefer to stay connected and get work done while flying. Not allowing them to bring their devices on the plane cuts productivity, taking away time that they can be getting business done.
“Many business travelers also prefer to keep their devices close for security purposes because they may contain sensitive company information.
“If it is in the best interest of security, business travelers are willing to comply with these types of measures.
“We encourage DHS to continue to adopt trusted traveler programs and expand PreClearance to ensure that resources can be effectively allocated to detecting threats to homeland security.
The ban first surfaced in the US when Saudi Arabian Airlines and Royal Jordanian Airlines said they received “instructions from the concerned US departments” to require passengers to check all electronic devices except cellphones and medical devices on all nonstop flights to the US.
The ban on electronics in the cabin applies to cameras, tablets, laptops, electronic games and any other device that is larger than a cellphone.
US airlines are not affected because they do not fly nonstop from the countries involved.
The rule is effective March 21, when a formal announcement is expected.
It applies to any flight from the following airports:
- Queen Alia International, Amman, Jordan
- Cairo International Airport, Egypt
- Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
- King Abdulaziz International, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
- King Khalid International, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
- Kuwait International Airport
- Mohammed V International, Casablanca, Morocco
- Hamad International, Doha, Qatar
- Dubai International, United Arab Emirates
- Abu Dhabi International, United Arab Emirates
Ironically, neither Jordan nor Saudi Arabia was included in the list of countries whose citizens would have been barred from entering the US for 90 days under President Trump’s would-be travel ban.
Also ironic is that checked bags are not always the safest place for electronic devices.
In 1988, Pan Am 103 was taken down over Lockerbie, Scotland, by a plastic explosive in a small radio-cassette “boom box” that was carried in a checked bag. All 243 passengers and 16 crew, as well as 11 people on the ground, were killed.
NB: Airline electronic devices image via BigStock.
NB2: Additional reporting by Kevin May.
Michele McDonald is a senior editor at Tnooz. She has worked as a journalist covering the travel industry for more than two decades.
She is a former managing editor of Travel Weekly (US) and former editor-in-chief of Travel Distribution Report.
In 2002, she founded Travel Technology Update, a newsletter for distribution professionals. She remains editor and publisher of Travel Technology Update. She also contributes to Air Transport World.