Electronics Ban Considered for Flights Departing the U.S.

Business Traveler Airport

In late March, the U.S. instituted an electronics ban on flights departing for the U.S. from several airports in the Middle East and Africa. This ban will impact non-stop flights as well as any flight connecting at one of these airports.

Now, what if this electronics ban was extended to flights departing from the U.S. as well? Let’s dive into what the ban means for you and what is being discussed.

The electronics ban currently prohibits the following items from carry-on luggage:

Banned Devices
LaptopsPortable DVD Players
TabletsElectronic game units (if larger than a smartphone)
E-ReadersTravel printers and scanners
Cameras

Cell phones are still allowed to be carried on board, but the rest must be placed in checked baggage.

Devices with lithium batteries are particularly concerning as there has been an issue with them catching fire in-flight. With these devices now in the cargo hold, they are out of reach for cabin crewmembers and could become even more hazardous.

Currently, the list of airports affected by the electronics ban are:

Airports Impacted By Current Electronics Ban
Amman (AMM)Dubai (DXB)
Abu Dhabi (AUH)Istanbul-Ataturk (IST)
Cairo (CAI)Jeddah (JED)
Casablanca (CMN)Kuwait (KWI)
Doha (DOH)Riyadh (RUH)

As a result, 9 airlines have been forced to change operating procedures to comply with the new U.S. regulations:

Airlines Impacted by Current Electronics Ban
Egypt AirRoyal Air Maroc
EmiratesRoyal Jordanian Airways
Etihad AirwaysSaudi Arabian Airlines
Kuwait AirwaysTurkish Airlines
Qatar Airways

This means that if you are flying with Etihad Airways from Johannesburg, South Africa to New York City and connecting in Abu Dhabi, you will have to check your devices in Johannesburg.

It’s no surprise that this decision by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been met with frustration by travelers around the world.

As if this weren’t bad enough, it was reported a few weeks ago that the U.S. would implement the same electronics ban for flights departing Europe. This news was not taken well by travelers or EU officials.

Business travelers were already concerned about the ban on flights from the Middle East. Without their laptops, they’d lose valuable work time on long-haul flights.

Other business travelers are required to keep their laptops with them at all times while traveling since they often contain confidential information. The ban forces these travelers to make other arrangements that could increase their travel time dramatically.

Fortunately, after discussions with the EU, U.S. officials held off on a new electronics ban and agreed to discuss it further. However, travelers are not in the clear yet, and it doesn’t look good going forward.

On Friday, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told CNN that they are considering an electronics ban for flights departing the U.S. as well. If travelers aren’t allowed to carry on devices when departing the U.S., you can bet travelers departing from the EU won’t be able to either.

Let’s be clear: an electronics ban on flights from the Middle East already has a negative impact on travelers. Such a ban on electronics for flights EU would significantly increase this impact.

However, banning electronics on flights departing from U.S. would be almost unfathomable to both business and leisure travelers. Travelers are already frustrated with airport security and flight delays because of IT system failures. Expanding the electronics ban will only exacerbate these frustrations.

Hopefully, U.S. officials can find a balanced approach that ensures secure air travel while also allowing travelers access to their electronic devices.

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