By Zhiyan Mai
Tuesday, March 21st, the Department of Homeland Security has issued a ban on large electronics on certain flights to the US from the Middle East and North Africa. While there are still a lot of uncertainties to the ban’s motives, its effect is mainly to prevent terrorist attacks. The Trump administration believes that airlines are expected to comply with the ban that was initiated, and should follow all rules set to prevent these huge loopholes from being left open.
More specifically, the ban requires the passenger to check all of their electronic items that have a larger battery than a cellphone, or else they would be unable to board their flight. That means any electronic device including laptops, tablets, e-readers, portable DVD players, gaming devices would all be required to be placed within checked baggage. Passengers on a connected flight to the US would not be required to do so. Flights with Emirates that offers a flight to New York’s JFK International Airport with a connection that stops in Milan, Italy and Athens, Greece, are permitted to have their laptops and other electronic devices in their cabins.
A totaling of nine airlines will be affected by the laptop ban in the Middle East and North Africa, listed below in the picture.
No flights from the US or European airlines will be affected by the ban, because none of them offer a direct flight from that region of the world. That being said, many US carriers are still taking a hit in their business. This is mostly due to the airlines feeding passengers directly into their respective own networks.
It is important to note that passengers who are connecting a flight to these airports would also be required to check their luggage at the point of origin. Many airlines since Tuesday have found ways around the rule to provide a better experience for many customers. Emirates will allow passengers to have access to their laptops until they board their flights. The complimentary laptop handling service will give passengers a time frame to use their laptops in their long layover in Dubai, or many of the other airports being affected by the ‘laptop ban’. Passengers who want this service will have to declare their electronic devices to the security agents before flying on a US-bound flight. The devices would then be taken and packed into secure boxed to store on the aircraft cargo hold. Once the flights lands in US, the boxes would be returned back to the passengers. While airlines like Emirates are willing to provide these services, many other airlines like Qatar airways indicated they would implement extra security measures of the devices, to make sure nothing happens.
All in all, the ban was issued mainly due to data showing that terrorist groups are continuing to target commercial aviation, and are “aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks” says one of the senior officials. They believe that the lithium battery will cause a “fire or explosion” on the aircraft. Yet many still question the ban, due to other known areas for terrorist activity being left off the listed banned countries. Those include Pakistan International Airlines, where flights include from Lahore to JFK International connecting through Manchester.
While many details of the laptop ban are still in discussion, it is likely that more details will be reported in the near future, and more rules getting added to the current state. As customers, it is important that we know the rules and regulations of these flights before heading down to the airport, so we can prepare ourselves ahead of time.