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U.S. banning larger electronics on flights from eight countries

The U.S. is banning larger electronics from flights from eight countries. They haven't announced which ones.

U.S. Banning Electronics from some flights

While it doesn't seem to include any European carriers, I know there are people here that travel beyond Europe to the Middle East and Africa.

Addendum: Since originally posting this, the U.S. has announced which airlines and airports. All are in the Middle East or Northern Africa.

The UK may announce similar action.

Posted by
1767 posts

And assume that if you are flying to those countries they will ban in return.

(How this makes you safer is beyond me but it gives our Government the illusion of "doing something" LOL!)

Posted by
6750 posts

They have a map of all the countries and airports in the article. I have flown Turkish Air several times, but this won't affect me as a leisure traveler. I sleep on the plane instead of working or watching films on a laptop. Some airlines have, or are scrapping, the video monitors because everyone seems to bring their own gadgets, so such a change may severely curtail options for in-flight entertainment or for business people to work on their laptops during the flight (likely the latter will be disproportionately affected).

As for the safety upside....who knows what data this abrupt policy (96 hours to comply!) is based on and whether it makes any sense at all. It will likely irk/anger many people (from those countries) and make them feel as if they're being singled out.

From the article:
"The Middle Eastern and North African airports affected are nearly all ones with close, friendly relations with Washington, so this will be seen by some as a drastic and unpopular measure. Wealthy Gulf Arab business leaders flying to the US, for example, will no longer be able to work on their laptops mid-flight."

It's worth reading some of the angry comments to this new policy to get a feel for how folks feel about it:
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/21/us/politics/tsa-ban-electronics-laptops-cabin.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Posted by
1970 posts

It seems nonsensical to me - overbroad, overdrawn and reactionary. I've done that nonstop from Istanbul to LAX. It's a long flight 14 hour flight and there's no sleeping in those coach seats for me. I read on my iPad, played Scrabble. I did use the onboard videos and so if the plane had good video choices that would help - but there's no guarantee on that. Being able to watch things/use my cell phone is not helpful to me - it's just too small for that and my eyes are too old.

It will be interesting to see how they police/enforce that rule at airports like Ataturk and Cairo. Those places are pretty chaotic to start with with long, slow lines. The learning curve on this new rule should really slow things down even more.

Posted by
4524 posts

This could very much affect some travelers that frequent RS forums and guidebooks. Istanbul is on the list. Morocco is on the list. Sometimes people might connect through major hubs like Dubai or might include a Middle Eastern itinerary like Jordan. Egypt (Cairo) is also on the list.

From what I read this morning, this applies to all NON-US carriers on direct flights to the US from those destinations. Any electronics bigger than a cell phone, including laptops, cameras, tablets (iPads) and e-readers cannot be brought on as carry on. They CAN be checked.

I would recommend anyone traveling to or from those destinations to check for any last minute updates as this could result in reciprocal actions by those countries or airlines. Other European nations might also implement these restrictions.

Posted by
6750 posts

I didn't read closely enough to see that cameras were included. So, yes, this does affect a broad swath of folks who travel with carryons and would rather not check their luggage. I always take an SLR on my trips, and now travel as much as possible with only a carryon. My first time to Istanbul turned out with my luggage being misplaced and delivered later that day (luckily). My Dad's business trip to Jordan ended up with his luggage being misplaced for several days (and having no atire for meetings). So it's a good reason to travel with a carryon. I wonder what other ill-fated policies are next from the Drumpf administration. I think he lives in a bubble and doesn't seem to appreciate both the hard and soft costs (like lots of ill-will) of his rushed mandates. Ataturk Airport has two levels of security - much stronger than any airport in the US. There are additional loops one has to go through to fly from the US from there.

Posted by
6720 posts

And, of course, how much more attractive of targets will those checked bags be for thieves now that they know they're all packed with electronics.

Posted by
125 posts

And the fees for checking that don't lock it for security reasons but put all your valuable electronics in it bag.

Posted by
10048 posts

However, if you fly U.S. based carriers, you are exempt and can carry your electronics on board.

I've never seen separate security at airports based on airlines. Will people traveling on a US based airline go through different security in say Turkey than passengers on Turkish Airlines? I can understand a ban based on airports but also on airlines?

Posted by
2916 posts

And, of course, how much more attractive of targets will those checked bags be for thieves now that they know they're all packed with electronics.

Good point. The accepted wisdom has always been to not put anything valuable in checked baggage. Now that won't be an option on those flights.

However, if you fly U.S. based carriers, you are exempt and can carry your electronics on board.

One commenter on the NYT article said that there are no US carriers that fly nonstop on those routes. I have no idea if that's true.

Posted by
6750 posts

These decisions are not data or information-driven but rather from his sense of fairness or lack thereof. Or this could just be some hair-brained idea coming out of DHS - they need something to do to look like they're tough on security.

Posted by
672 posts

This looks like another poorly thought out decision . So, now we're going to put all of our electronics in a checked bag? What could go wrong there?

Posted by
19199 posts

I can easily go without using my tablet on board; it's the possibility of theft from a checked bag that I'd be worried about. I use that tablet extremely heavily during long trips. Depending on my smartphone would be much more awkward.

This is one thing I'm not (at this point) prepared to blame on the current president. It sounds like it has been in the works for a while and is based on intelligence, which takes time to collect and evaluate. I imagine the policy has been under development for some time. Now, whether it will be effective is a different matter.

Posted by
1767 posts

Based on intelligence?

Intelligence that says "oh it would never occur to a terrorist to fly Delta instead of their national carrier?" Or intelligence that says "it would never occur to a terrorist to put the bomb in the hold"? Or intelligence that says "it would never occur to the terrorist to fly to Paris first"?

No it's based on the "look we are doing something" security theatre we have.

Posted by
4536 posts

The UK announcement is somewhat different in detail from the US one as it explicitly covers larger phones as well, ie so-called phablets but covers a smaller number of countries, but also UK carriers flying in from those countries.

The official announcement is here.

Posted by
12601 posts

Thanks Marco. The official announcement hadn't been made yet when I posted the BBC link earlier, just that it was going to be and it was not yet clear what was going to be in it.

Posted by
137 posts

I think I am more worried about the thought of all of those lithium batteries in the cargo hold. Will people remember to take out the spare batteries when they put their devices in their checked bags?

Posted by
6355 posts

I'm amazed at the consternation shown in response to this. Even if a flight is 12 or more hours long, I can guarantee you that you WILL live through it without your electronics. Ever heard of books - you know the paper kind? If, for some reason, you have to travel on one of these airlines from one of these countries (a very small portion of this forum's participants), bring a paperback book or a puzzle book along. They do still allow paper and pencils, don't they?

I know this may sound a little snarky and I don't mean it to be. And I do think the ban is a bit of an overreaction. However, even if every airline did this it wouldn't kill anybody.

Posted by
6750 posts

Nancy,
I agree with your comment when it comes to discretionary leisure travel, but these are long flights and there are categories of people who need to work on a plane because the trip is not discretionary for them (business people, scholars fine-tuning presentations for an upcoming conference, students, etc.). Everyone has a different take of how to best spend time in transit. I make it a habit to try to sleep on my flights (not do work), but I realize that others have different needs. If you have to check your laptop with luggage, that means you can't use it before your flight boards either because you no longer have access to it. I don't know who would feel very comfortable with putting anything sensitive like a laptop with private files in their checked luggage, whether they are leisure or business travelers. I wouldn't. Also, if you like to just have a carryon but no longer can make use of it (since you have a laptop or camera with you, and now you're left with having to check it in), that's a major downside. Sure, everyone can live with anything, but there is a cost associated with this, mostly paid by people who would use flying time to work or do something they deem productive which requires electronics.

Posted by
12601 posts

Yes, it's the business travelers whom I think this will affect the most. Along with the necessity (often) of having to work on flights, being separated from a device loaded with sensitive material is a concern. My husband was required to lock his laptop up when it wasn't physically with him - as in hotel safes - and could have lost his job if he'd misplaced the thing. Not that a business would do that to an employee whose laptop had been lost by an airline, if it had to be checked, but it could certainly cause a lot of anxiety.

An interesting footnote to all of this is that I believe the Current Occupant has business holdings in some of the countries whose major airports are affected. Istanbul, for sure. Then again, I wonder if very wealthy people fly into private airports which are not affected?

Posted by
101 posts

No, not first world problems. I work with researchers from all around the world, and those from resource-limited settings are much LESS able to weather a loss of a laptop from theft, which will be the inevitable result of packing them in our checked bags on their way to conferences or meetings. A laptop gone missing would have a huge impact on my group too. Science funds are tight these days.

People who are blithely dismissing this issue should think a bit. Read some of the articles about the real-world effects. People traveling for business as well as leisure travelers (particularly those with children to entertain on the flights) are all going to be backing away from these routes. It will have a negative effect on the airlines (which may well be the point; again, read up), as well as travel to certain places.

All this would be one thing if it was based on logic and reason, and resulted in increased safety, but storing potential bombs in the cargo hold really ISN'T safer than keeping them in the cabin, is it?

Posted by
1767 posts

Wonder how "first world problem" will feel when it's your personal or company data compromised by laptop theft from the hold?

Posted by
2246 posts

Well it's all pretty interesting, an article here about one of the knock-on effects of restrictions/bans. It seems that given enough time, the common idea and effects of making the world smaller through travel could diminish:

"Something not often realized is that education—particularly higher education—is a major American export. If new border controls prevent the entry of foreign students, or simply makes them feel unwelcome so they go elsewhere, American jobs and American students pay the price."

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brown-center-chalkboard/2017/01/31/sealing-the-border-could-block-one-of-americas-crucial-exports-education/

Posted by
4556 posts

I'm amazed at the consternation shown in response to this. Even if a
flight is 12 or more hours long, I can guarantee you that you WILL
live through it without your Electronics

I'm more concerned about Theft and I suspect others feel the same way. I just know too many people who have had something stolen from a checked bag. I had a hairdryer taken once on a flight to Cairo. On another trip, one of my colleagues was required to gate check a bag with her laptop in it and figured it would be fine since she would just pick it up on the jetway on arrival. The bag "disappeared". I've had luggage "lost" a number of times, but I've always avoided checking anything of value.

Posted by
12551 posts

MrsEB, at least the lines at security will move faster without a bunch individuals waiting till the last second to pull their lap tops out of their luggage. I sort of put this in the First World Problem issue. I can think of a lot more serious issues than this.....

Posted by
3469 posts

I have no problem being without my electronics for the period of the flight. What I have an issue with is every US based airline and many foreign airlines I have flown on specifically state they will not cover losses related to electronics that are checked!! So now, we check our electronics because we have to and when we arrive the electronics are gone and the airline says "sorry, we don't cover that"?

Posted by
12320 posts

US based carriers don't fly to those airports, that's why it doesn't apply to them.

The current administration applies restrictions only if US business is not affected.

The 6 countries in the last ban earlier this month, do not include Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States in spite of most 9/11 hijackers coming from there.

Posted by
12551 posts

We have two parallel threads going, so forgive the repetition.

I know I must be missing something here with regard the US Ban. The way I read it: https://www.dhs.gov/news/2017/03/21/fact-sheet-aviation-security-enhancements-select-last-point-departure-airports

Is that, in Europe, the restrictions only apply when flying directly from Istanbul to the United States. Nothing else. No "to" anyplace, no list of banned air lines going from any other point to any other point. No, banning of Turkish air if you are flying to Istanbul or flying from Istanbul to Budapest or any other combination of possibilities; just, within Europe, if you are flying directly from Istanbul to the United States.

I haven't actually read the UK ban, but I am under the impression that it is the same.

What have I missed?

Posted by
6750 posts

James,
What you've missed is that Turkish Air has made serious inroads in market share for US-based flights to Europe via Istanbul. Many people fly them from airports such as Dulles/VA, Atlanta, Houston, etc to get to a European city. The last leg of those flights on the return home inevitably is an Istanbul-based flight to the US. So if someone brings their laptop/camera with them to Europe via Turkish Air, they also have to take the same stuff back...except on the way back, they now have to check their stuff in. So whether the ban only affects flights from Istanbul is immaterial to those people who used Turkish Air to get to Europe in the first place...they're routed through Istanbul getting in and they'll be routed through Istanbul getting out.

Posted by
12551 posts

So all of the direct flights from Istanbul to the US are affected. Okay, I understand.

Curious, how many here took a non stop flight from Istanbul to the US in the last 12 months? Again, just curious about the impact of this.

Posted by
6750 posts

Curious, how many here took a non stop flight from Istanbul to the US in the last 12 months?

I have - with a layover in Istanbul on both ends. But I don't think asking this very narrow forum will quantify the impacts with any accuracy. There are many more airports affected than Istanbul. To be fair, assuming that checking stuff in will definitely result in thefts is an overestimation (I've had my bags searched several times by TSA/Turkish security and nothing ended up missing), but I can understand that people with expensive valuables may not want to check them in.

Posted by
12551 posts

Agnes, then if you plan to do it again, it definitely will affect you if you carry a lap top.

I am a very firm believer in giving back. So this is an excellent opportunity. Donate your lap top in Istanbul before getting to the airport. Wouldn't it be fantastic if the forum could pull together and find a charity to accept laptops and cameras? Really do some good to school kids or something?

picture the headline:

Rick Steves Group Turns Inconvenience into Charitable Opportunity.

Posted by
6750 posts

James,
It's not my laptop that's at stake, it's the camera equipment (no way can I afford to lose a Mac, so it's not coming along). Donating it would be folly since SLRs are for a dying breed of people who love taking photos with cameras, not their phones. So I put more value on my camera than someone else would. I long for the days of pre-9/11, pre-DHS, etc, when life (including travel) was a heck of a lot more joyful :-)

Posted by
12551 posts

Agnes, just a few years ago I donated a SLR to a struggling young photographer in Romania. Since then he has been published a number of times. Even more recently I brought a nice SLR into a country for another aspiring photographer (these things are taxed heavily in some countries so they save hundreds by buying them off tourists). So I bet you would find people who could understand your SLR as well as you do. Otherwise I guess you take the risk or fly another route. With a little creativity I bet you can get home for less than the cost of camera theft insurance.....

But I do understand that it is an inconvenience for you.

Posted by
6750 posts

Actually the most inconvenience is not to me, but to business travelers who work on the plane or at the airport before their plane boards. There is an opportunity cost of their travel time. You don't have to be one of them to appreciate this. Forget Turkish Air, but who flies Emirates? Lots of business folks. There are also people who really can't afford to have their laptops/camera stuff misplaced or lost, or any private info on business laptops compromised...the airlines have limits as to what losses they cover. Fortunately, credit card coverage can help too.

Posted by
506 posts

We are flying on Turkish Airlines in May 2017. The outgoing leg will not be an issue as the electronics are not required to be in checked luggage. On the return from Athens through Istanbul we will check one of our carryon bags with the ipads, cameras and dirty clothes. We are not going to let this "bump in the road" cause us to lose any sleep. I will let the forum know how it goes.

Ed

Posted by
12551 posts

Agnes, unless I misunderstand it, and that might be possible, this isn't an Airline ban, its a departure Airport issue. So you can fly Emirates Air or Turkish Air as long as they don't originate in one of the 10 cities mentioned. In Europe that's Istanbul (barely).

I've been through Atatürk a couple of times and its okay, but not wow! in my opinion. But Turkish air did have good service; gotta give them that. Malev had really good service too. Very sad.

And yes, I fully expect this to inconvenience at much as 1% of the people traveling to the United States. But for now, till someone proves me wrong, I am going to put the blame for this sort of thing where it belongs and not the governments of the UK or the US.

Posted by
607 posts

I question the real motives for this new policy.

My tablet is very thin 5.6mm. How much explosives can be hidden in a laptop or point and shoot camera? And any damage would just be as severe if it takes place in the hold.

I wonder if this is just a way to separate people from their electronics so that government can download information from your hard drive or memory storage or install surveillance hardware or software on to suspect's devices. The suggestion to carry a dumb laptop and data on a separate usb thumb drive is a good one.

I would think that a terrorist could avoid this ban by changing his itinerary to a different departing city or airline. To be effective, this would have to be worldwide ban covering all airlines. Thin edge...

Posted by
988 posts

If the government has the capability to download surveillance software onto our personal devices and electronics, I doubt very much that they need to isolate our electronics into an airplane cargo hold to accomplish that.
Governments have to at least give the appearance that they are attempting to protect their populations.
In today's world, that is pretty much impossible but it must look like they are doing something.
It has already been proven that very compact battery bombs that will fit into a laptop or other device are being built. An inbound flight to the US.....,that's an extremely high value target to terrorists.
We expect the government to do what it can. Unfortunately, as we keep learning over and over again, there doesn't seem to be that much. But something is better than nothing.

Posted by
31303 posts

This latest restriction would strongly appear to be correlated to Daalo Airlines flight 159 in Somalia. The device used in that case was likely contained in a laptop. Fortunately the detonation occurred at low altitude, so decompression was not an issue.

There's no doubt that the evil-doers are constantly looking for new ways to attack civilian airliners, so perhaps some new intelligence information has become apparent.

Posted by
783 posts

Donating is a nice thought but that is a lot to ask. It's one thing if you were maybe caught abroad when the ban was initiated, ready to spend the money on a new laptop, and had the means to save and then erase your personal files from said laptop. I would probably donate in that situation. But I don't have the means to donate a laptop on every trip I take. The cost is pretty close to the cost of an actual plane ticket (maybe more!). I never risk bringing my laptop on a trip, domestic or international. I don't want to risk theft, loss, or damage. I would assume many people who bring their laptops do so because they really need them and, therefore, would really need to bring them home.

I want to trust that this ban was put in place based on intelligence showing a risk. But I certainly understand the inconvenience for many people and why people are upset.

Posted by
12551 posts

I take an old junker when I travel. Maybe $800 new. Just enough to do office email and transfer photos to a flash drive. I always plan on 10 percent of my trip cost to go to something meaningful on every trip.

Posted by
10048 posts

My suggestion is to put all data either on a flash drive or in the cloud. Then get a really cheap machine. When it's time to fly, the machine may have to go into the hold, but the flash drive stays with you.

It's possible that some of you may be partially right. I don't think they want to look at everyone's laptop. In fact trying to get into locked laptops could take awhile. But what if they want to keep track of certain people? Their laptops could be intercepted after being checked in and a small tracking device put inside. Not difficult and would only take a few minutes. You would never know unless you were looking for it.

Intelligence communities work together when there is a common enemy. They just don't make it public knowledge.

Posted by
988 posts

Last night on CNN Anderson Cooper was talking with that British flying expert, Richard somebody, and they were talking about that ban being extended to included several Euro airports like Heathrow, CDG, Frankfurt and that eventually they may just ban laptops completely from both the cabin and the hold.

Posted by
31303 posts

Elaine,

That wouldn't be Richard Quest, would it? He often comments on aviation-related matters.

It would be unfortunate if they banned Laptops completely from flights, as a lot of people like to do work during flights, watch movies, etc. Hopefully it doesn't come to that.

Posted by
988 posts

Spot on, Ken. It was Richard Quest. You notice they bring him on whenever there's an air disaster.

But he also said Intelligence knows who and where these few highly skilled bomb-makers are located and that they need to be taken out.
But they're like cockroaches. Some will survive, then multiply, and carry on.

Banning all laptops would be a huge lifestyle change that would inconvenience thousands of travelers daily.

Posted by
31303 posts

Elaine,

"But they're like cockroaches. Some will survive, then multiply, and carry on."

That's it exactly! It's like a game of whack-a-mole. When one is whacked, another pops up somewhere else. I'm really thankful that the intelligence service are on top of these things.