Electronics Ban on Flights to US From 10 Cities – What You Need to Know

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Update:   The UK will also ban electronics in the cabin from certain destinations. 

Heads up!  If you’re flying to the US from certain cities in the Middle East and North Africa, be prepared to check all large electronics, including laptops, tablets, cameras, and Kindles.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the new policy must be implemented in the next 96 hours, and affects 9 airlines operating to the US from 10 international airports.  And the ban is indefinite.

This will be very inconvenient for folks who like to get work done, read e-books, or watch movies on their devices in-flight.  Only cell phones, smartphones, and necessary medical equipment will be allowed in the cabin.

Electronics Ban US Flights

If You’re Traveling From Certain Cities in the Middle East and North Africa to the US, You’ll Have to Check Your Laptop or Tablet

I’ll give you the details and suggest other options if this will affect you.

In-Flight Electronics Ban

Link:   Associated Press Electronics Ban

Link:   Department of Homeland Security Fact Sheet

Link:   Department of Homeland Security FAQ

The Department of Homeland Security now requires airlines operating from 10 Middle Eastern and North African airports to ban electronic devices in the cabin on flights to the US.  All electronic devices larger than a cell phone or smartphone must be in your checked baggage.

Here’s what you need to know.

1.   Which Airports Are Included in the Ban?

The ban impacts flights to the US from 10 international airports in the Middle East and North Africa:

  • Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • Amman, Jordan
  • Cairo, Egypt
  • Casablanca, Morocco
  • Doha, Qatar
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Istanbul, Turkey
  • Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • Kuwait City, Kuwait
  • Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Electronics Ban US Flights

Flights From Cities Like Dubai Will Be Affected by the Electronics Ban

Note:   Even if your travel originates in another city, if you’re connecting through one of the included cities, you WILL have to check your large electronics.

2.   Which Airlines Will This Affect?

There are NO US airlines affected by the new rules.  Only these airlines operate from the included cities to the US:

  • Egypt Air
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways
  • Kuwait Airways
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Royal Jordanian Airlines
  • Saudia
  • Turkish Airlines

3.   What Types of Electronics Are Included in the Ban?

The Department of Homeland Security says any personal electronic device larger than a cell phone or smartphone must be placed in checked luggage.

This includes:

  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • E-Readers (like Kindles)
  • Cameras
  • Portable DVD players
  • Electronic game units larger than a smartphone
  • Travel printers or scanners
Electronics Ban US Flights

Can’t Get Away From Work? Now You’ll Be Forced to Pack Your Laptop and Take a Breather

However, if there’s a medically necessary device you must travel with, you’ll be allowed to bring it onboard.

4.   Why Are They Banning Electronics on These Flights?

The official word from the Department of Homeland Security is that there are concerns about terrorist threats which include “smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items.”

According to their FAQ:

We have reason to be concerned about attempts by terrorist groups to circumvent aviation security and terrorist groups continue to target aviation interests.  Implementing additional security measures enhances our ability to mitigate further attempts against the overseas aviation industry.

And they’ve said the ban will continue indefinitely.

5.   What If You’re Booked to Fly From One of These Airports?

Be proactive and pack your large electronics in your checked baggage.  There appear to be NO exceptions to the new rule, so everyone (including members of trusted traveler programs like Global Entry) is affected.

If you’re connecting through one of these airports, the new policy applies to you, too.  It’s not clear how they’ll enforce the rule on connections, so it’s best to check your electronics at your originating airport.

Electronics Ban US Flights

Be Proactive and Put Your Electronics in Your Checked Baggage – Even If You’re Connecting

But if you absolutely must have your laptop or tablet with you, and you already have a ticket, you could cancel and re-book flights on a different routing (if you bought a refundable fare).  Otherwise, it’s worth calling the airline to see if they can switch you to different flights.

And if you haven’t yet booked a flight, consider avoiding connections through these airports if having your electronics with you is important.

6.   What If My Electronics Get Lost, Stolen, or Damaged?

This is a huge concern, and it’s yet unclear how airlines and insurance companies will address this.

Airlines usually have limits on their liability if baggage contents are damaged or destroyed.  Often, they’ll exclude fragile and expensive items, like computers.

And if you have lost luggage insurance through your credit card, there’s a limit to what and how much you’ll be reimbursed for (often ~$3,000 per passenger).  So check the fine print on your travel benefits to see if you’re covered.

Bottom Line

The Department of Homeland Security is banning all large electronics from carry-on luggage on flights to the US from 10 Middle Eastern and North African airports:

  • Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • Amman, Jordan
  • Cairo, Egypt
  • Casablanca, Morocco
  • Doha, Qatar
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Istanbul, Turkey
  • Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • Kuwait City, Kuwait
  • Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

This means items like laptops, tablets, Kindles, and cameras must be in your checked luggage.  Even if you’re only connecting through one of these airports to a US-bound flight!

Cell phones, smartphones, and necessary medical devices are still allowed onboard.  And the ban is indefinite, so consider the new rules before you book a ticket from or through one of these airports.

What do you think of the electronics ban?  Has it already affected you?  Please share your experiences in the comments.

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8 responses to “Electronics Ban on Flights to US From 10 Cities – What You Need to Know

  1. We have to consider that this may be a credible threat, but I can’t take seriously that it exempts U.S. carriers. Interesting that the ban targets national carriers that U.S. airlines constantly complain about, and who are popular with business travelers who work frequently in the U.S. and Middle East. While there may be a credible threat, once again, the implementation is haphazard and reeks of ulterior motives.

    • If you look at the list of airports covered, no US carriers fly to any of them. And the UK’s ban covers UK carriers as well.

  2. This really is an inconvenience. I am very worried about damage or theft, as baggage handlers are infamous in these areas to be very aggressive with your baggage. My biggest concern though, is retaliation by these carriers. Royal Jordanian already banned all electronics from the main cabin, including cellphones. So it’s only a matter of time before the rest follow suit.

  3. Ulterior motives for sure… Trump/Bannon are trying to punish certain foreign carriers for being subsidized by their governments (of course there are US subsidies too). For me, flying this week on Turkish Air from Istanbul to SFO the inconvenience is not great, but I do fear getting my valuable cameras and laptop broken or stolen en route. This new policy totally invalidates the precaution of keeping expensive electronics with you at all times. And since this flight was booked with points, I don’t think any of my credit cards will cover losses. I hope I’m wrong about that if it does happen.

  4. Does anyone know if you can still bring a small point and shoot camera with you or even a GoPro? They are about the same size as a cell phone, but they do list cameras as one of the items you can’t bring. Most phones have a camera, too

  5. Pingback: Credit card coverage for electronics in checked luggage

  6. Eileen Kerrigan

    The most bizarre thing is that Riyadh/Saudia Airlines is on this list — very weird, considering that the U.S. is best buddies with Saudi Arabia. I expect we’ll see a HUGE backlash from that quarter, as they may well consider it a tremendous insult.

  7. ‘The official word from the Department of Homeland Security is that there are concerns about terrorist threats which include “smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items.”’

    Does it really matter if something explosive is in the checked luggage verses on board? (Serious question). I can see why it would matter for a knife or a gun, but isn’t there a problem either way with something explosive? It doesn’t make any sense to me to ban them from the main cabin, but not the luggage.