Dubai, Abu Dhabi airline passengers to be hit by US ban on electronics

Etihad, Emirates say they have not yet been advised of any change to policy of carrying items on board

FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2016 file photo, a laptop is seen in Las Vegas. Royal Jordanian Airlines is advising passengers that laptops, iPads, cameras and other electronics won’t be allowed in carry-on luggage for U.S.-bound flights starting Tuesday, March 21, 2017. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2016 file photo, a laptop is seen in Las Vegas. Royal Jordanian Airlines is advising passengers that laptops, iPads, cameras and other electronics won’t be allowed in carry-on luggage for U.S.-bound flights starting Tuesday, March 21, 2017. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Passengers on some US-bound foreign airline flights will have to check electronic devices larger than a cell phone once US authorities formalize a new ban in response to an unspecified terrorism threat, US officials told Reuters on Monday.

The new rule is expected to be announced Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security, the officials said, adding that it had been under consideration since the US government learned of a threat several weeks ago.

A source said the rule would cover around eight to 10 foreign airlines. A separate government official confirmed an Associated Press report that the ban will affect 10 airports in eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

Reuters reported earlier the ban would include airlines based in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The officials did not name the other countries.

Royal Jordanian Airlines said in a tweet on Monday that US-bound passengers would be barred from carrying most electronic devices aboard aircraft starting Tuesday at the request of US officials, including those that transit through Canada. Passengers can still carry cell phones and approved medical devices.

Al Riyadh newspaper, which is close to the Saudi government, reported that the civil aviation authority had informed "airlines flying from the kingdom's (Saudi) airports to US airports of the latest measures from US security agencies in which passengers must store laptops and tablets" in checked-in baggage.

Al Riyadh quoted a civil aviation authority source as saying that these measures from senior US authorities were relayed to the Saudi interior ministry.

Saudia Airlines confirmed in a tweet that US transportation authorities had banned carrying larger electronic devices in cabin luggage.

United Arab Emirates carriers Emirates and Etihad Airways told Reuters on Tuesday they had not been advised of any new restrictions on carrying electronic devices on US flights.

No American carriers would be affected by the ban, the officials said. Passengers would be allowed to carry larger devices such as tablets, portable DVD players, laptops and cameras in their checked luggage.

CNN, citing an unnamed US official, said the ban on electronics on certain airlines was related to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and that some information came from a recent US special forces raid in Yemen. Reuters could not immediately confirm the CNN report, but Reuters has reported the group has planned several foiled bombing attempts on Western-bound airlines.

Sources at EgyptAir also said the carrier had not been advised of any new restrictions and that a flight to New York had departed earlier on Tuesday with passengers allowed to carry on electronic devices as normal.

The White House declined to comment.

A spokesman for the US Department of Homeland Security, David Lapan, said the agency has "no comment on potential security precautions" and would provide an update when appropriate.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly called congressional lawmakers this weekend to notify them of the plan, congressional aides said.

In July 2014, the Homeland Security Department stepped up security of US-bound flights, requiring tougher screening of mobile phones and other electronic devices and requiring them to be powered up before passengers could board flights to the United States.

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Posted by: MT3

Emirates et al should introduce a free of charge fragile-items, high-security device storage option so that these things don't need to go through in check-in luggage where they are prone to breakage/thievery etc... If I can hand in my devices at the airport and know they will be transported in a secure and rigid container then I'll live with the inconvenience of not having them with me in the cabin. If, however, I am forced to store, for example, expensive camera equipment in my check-in luggage then I will simply not fly to the US and holiday somewhere else until the ban is lifted.

Posted by: Telcoguy

Yep, Christmas was my last visit to the US in a long time I am afraid. Really inconvenient as we are growing our LatAm practice and I will spend most of my time there and Miami would be perfect for me.

But it is simply not worth the hassle. One of my (Spanish) colleagues spent almost 6 hours of interrogation just to get to meet me in spite of the ESTA pre approval . I can not imagine how things may turn in the next few months.

Hopefully only UK will follow suit with these moronic measures.

Posted by: MNA

When carriers charge extra for your luggage and carry on, when carriers sell water and coffee on the planes, and when carriers plan to make passengers pay to use the bathroom on board (coming soon to a plane near you) when they do that they are unable to plan and they failed to compete. The alternative is use their muscles to steal passengers from other carriers who know how to comfort their clients traveling sometimes for over 24 hours.
I think next step is for the ME carriers to equip their planes with IPads and laptops, so business people don't have to carry their own.

Posted by: Telcoguy

@John, no they can not. Emirates can not provide me a laptop with the software I use. Nor to many other people.

And specially, i am not going to put my client data on a loaner. The ban will impact business passengers, not sure to which extent yet, but it will impact.

It may well be that Emirates/Turkish/Qatar lose business class pax to USA but there is no benefit for the American carriers.

If flying to the USA becomes too painful people will simply look for alternatives and simply stop flying. Problem is some people are willing to cut their nose to spit on their face.

Posted by: john

Great suggestions. ME carriers are capable of implementing this and are of the caliber that they can equip their planes with I Pads and laptops for passenger usage. It doesn't matter what legislation is passed in the US, ME passengers are spoilt for choice with airlines that surpass any US carrier and they will never fly a US carrier at the present state of operation. Yes, people will not fly to the US rather than be inconvenienced. London is going to be packed this summer!

Posted by: John Young

Outrageous! what next?

Posted by: WHJ

US airlines have been wining and throwing tantrums for a long time over their incapacity to compete with Gulf airlines. They now seem to have successfully lobbied to bring about this dubious law which aims to undermine the hubs in the region.
A big percentage of business travellers and tourists flying from East to West use regional airlines and they need their laptops and iPads on these long hauls. They will now have to reconsider their flight plans, and, consequently, the affected airlines and hubs will lose a lot of business - which is exactly the objective of this new law.
This is purely a hit-below-the-belt commercial decision.
I guess when they can't win fair and square, they resort to unscrupulous tactics.

Posted by: Tareq Abdulla

whats next, put a fence around Middle east and we will let you know when you can cross it.

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