By Josie Wales
Senior administration officials confirmed Tuesday that the U.S. will be implementing carry-on restrictions banning electronic devices larger than a smartphone from flights arriving in the United States from selected airlines in the Middle East and Northern Africa. The new TSA “emergency amendment” requires passengers to put their laptops, tablets, game consoles, etc., in with their checked baggage, whether they intended to check any luggage or not.
The new procedure affects the following airports: Jordan’s Queen Alia International; Egypt’s Cairo International; Kuwait International; Qatar’s Doha International; Turkey’s Istanbul Ataturk; Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz International; Saudi Arabia’s King Khalid International; Morocco’s Mohammed V Airport; Dubai International; and Abu Dabi International.
Airlines affected by the ban are as follows: Turkish Airlines; Royal Jordanian; EgyptAir; Saudia; Qatar Airways; Kuwait Airways; Royal Air Maroc; Emirates; and Ethiad Airways. The ban does not apply to airline employees or flights into any of the listed airports.
DHS officials are calling it a safety precaution, citing past attacks in Egypt, Turkey, Belgium, and Somalia — none of which involved explosives or weapons being smuggled onboard in electronic devices. They also dismissed questions regarding whether or not the sudden restrictions were in response to any credible threat, how long the “emergency amendment” will be enforced, or the difference between a device being held in the cargo hold or held in the cabin of the same plane.
Less than 24 hours later, the U.K. followed suit, announcing a carry-on electronics ban “on direct flights to the UK from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.” The airlines affected by the ban are British Airways; EasyJet; Jet2.com; Monarch; Thomas Cook; Thompson; Turkish Airlines; Pegasus Airways; Atlas-Global Airlines; Middle East Airlines; Egyptair; Royal Jordanian; Tunis Air; and Saudia.
The spokesman for the prime minister declined to comment on what prompted the new procedures.