This post expresses our opinions only. Please do your own research and form your own conclusions. Information included here could change or be interpreted differently, so it’s best to read about the ban directly from the source as well.
Electronics Ban on Flights from 8 Countries – Our Thoughts
Update: We’re big fans of open dialogue and we value diversity in opinions, however, we ask that comments on this post remain respectful and considerate of all points of view. As we quickly learned after publishing this article, this is a bit of a polarizing topic. This post is primarily informative in nature, with our personal opinions at the end. Let’s try to remain as positive as possible even if you don’t agree with other commenters or don’t understand their points of view. 😉
If you’re a frequent traveler you may have heard about the new electronics ban on flights from 8 different majority-Muslim countries announced early this morning. We’re still researching it and trying to understand exactly how it will be executed, but here is our understanding of what we’ve read so far and our thoughts on the ban.
Keep in mind, this is a developing story and the U.K. has also just announced their own ban, which could affect anyone with a layover in the U.K.
When will this ban go into effect?
This ban was announced at 3 a.m. EST on Tuesday March 21st and must be implemented within 96 hours by airlines.
What flights will this ban apply to?
This ban will affect flights from the following countries (not flights to these countries):
- Amman, Jordan
- Jeddah and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia
- Kuwait City
- Casablanca, Morocco
- Doha, Qatar
- Dubai and Abu Dhabi in UAB
What electronics are banned in carry-ons from these 8 countries?
From what we’ve read, it sounds like all of the following electronics will be banned in carry-ons:
- travel printers
- game units larger than a phone
Does it apply to all aircraft carriers?
No, it does not apply to American carriers, only foreign carriers.
Why the ban?
Homeland Security has not mentioned (from what we’ve read) specific intelligence as to why this ban has gone into effect, but they did mention it was based on intelligence reports regarding more general concern over extremist groups targeting American aviation.
Will this affect layovers?
From what we’ve ready, it seems that it does. If you fly from one country with a layover in one of the countries mentioned above, you will be subject to the same ban flying into the U.S. Assuming you don’t book your flights separately, you’d theoretically have to check your electronics from the start of your series of flights as you wouldn’t have access to your luggage during your layover in one of the countries that are part of the ban. The only way you’d have access was if you booked separate flights as you’d then have to claim and recheck baggage at the airport.
Are any other countries having similar bans?
Yes, the U.K. just announced that they too will be enforcing a similar ban. Their ban includes flights from the following countries:
- Saudi Arabia
Their ban includes the following carriers:
- British Airways
- Thomas Cook
- Turkish Airlines
- Pegasus Airways
- Atlas-Global Airways
- Middle East Airlines
- Royal Jordanian
- Tunis Air
Electronics banned under the U.K.’s ban include:
- DVD players
- phones over a certain size
Are electronics allowed in checked bags or are they banned entirely?
From what we’ve read, electronics can be kept in checked bags (just not carry-ons).
Are there any exceptions?
Yes, it seems that medical equipment is the exception (from what we’ve seen).
What are our thoughts?
This is a tough one. On the one hand we’re very big supporters of airline safety measures. No, we are not huge fans of TSA agents that abuse their power (we’ve had a few interesting situations), but we do understand that safety is number 1.
On the other hand, it seems a little odd that we’d be allowed to bring the electronics with us, but keep them in checked bags. My understanding, from what we’ve read, is a concern over electronics be turned into harmful devices, but why would they be allowed below us in cargo? Shouldn’t they be completely banned?
Clearly, we don’t have access to the intel Homeland Security does, so it’s not really something we can confidently form a full opinion on since we don’t have all the facts. We do find it a bit interesting that the U.K. has instituted a similar ban based on what we’ve read was similar or the same intel as the U.S., but they didn’t include anywhere in the United Arab Emirates, which (from what we understand) has been very cooperative in fighting terrorism. The UAE is also a very different atmosphere compared to some of the other countries on the electronics ban list. Dubai has a world-class airport, it’s thought-provoking to see them on a ban such as this.
How will this ban affect journalists, bloggers, businessmen/businesswomen, etc.?
Regardless of our feelings on this electronics ban (and we’re not against it, just learning more at this point), we’re concerned with how this will come into play for families. If you’ve ever flown a far distance as a family then you know that having electronics for the kiddos can make a huge difference. We’re not talking a 6 hour flight, we’re talking 12 hours or more of flying! Not all airlines provide good in-flight entertainment (though some of those included in the electronics ban are very well-equipped) and not all airlines are super kid-friendly, so what are families (including special needs families) to do if they fly out of one of these countries?
We will personally never check our cameras, laptops or tablets in our bags because I highly doubt they’d make it through undamaged. Also, we never make it through a flight without security going through our bags during transport when we’re not there. I’d hate to see an expensive electronic end up lost or stolen.
While Dubai has been on our list of places we want to visit for some time, I think we’ll have to work out the logistics of how we’d make that work without bringing along certain electronics. Obviously, pictures and video are a huge part of our trips as bloggers, so how would we be able to get that done without certain electronics with us since we wouldn’t be willing to check those? Would we have to take a more roundabout (and therefore expensive) flight home and book separate flights so that we’d have access to our bags mid-trip? That doesn’t seem very feasible.
I think our final concern is the fact that medical devices are currently exempt, but will they remain so? And if they do, will we go through even harsher security than we already do? As it stands, we already get pulled out for Patrick’s CPAP regularly, despite the fact we always do exactly what we’re supposed to and place it in a separate tray, open it up, expose the machine, hosing, etc. It will be interesting to see how this continues to evolve.
Again, to us it’s worth spending some extra time in security if it means safer flights, but how will this ban actually play out for families traveling out of any of the countries mentioned above?
Had you heard about this electronics ban? How do you feel about it and what are your concerns?
Note: The post above expresses our opinions regarding what we have read on the ban. We always recommend doing your own research and forming your own opinions.