As the U.S. and U.K. imposed a Middle East laptop ban, visitors may decide to curtail non-essential traveling to affected countries. The barring of carry-on electronics, larger than a smartphone, for those traveling to several Middle Eastern airports, was released in a statement by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), on Tuesday, March 21, 2017.
Middle East Ban on Electronics as Safety Measure
The Middle East ban on laptops and other devices in carry-ons is making travelers, wishing to visit affected airports, to rethink plans. This is in response to the U.S. transportation safety administration (TSA) confidential email issued to several Middle East airlines, on Monday, March 20.
On the heels of Donald Trump attempting to impose a ban on travel by visitors from predominantly Muslim-based Middle East countries, his administration ordered the new restrictions in the form of the email, described as a circular. While the ban notice states this is not a public regulation but it does request that the Middle Eastern airlines comply within 96 hours of its release, on Tuesday at 3 a.m. ET. Correspondingly, for any airline refusing to obey the order, the U.S. is prepared to work with the FAA to take certificates away to prevent the airline from flying into the United States.
Subsequently, the U.K. has imposed its own similar ban. Following in the footsteps of the U.S., to improve security the U.K. has enforced the barring of any electronic apparatus, larger than a smartphone, in passenger carry-ons. Countries in the Middle East and North Africa are affected by the U.K. ban.
Laptops are being seen as a security threat, especially following a 2016 explosion. A Daallo Airlines flight, originating from Mogadishu, Somalia, had a laptop bomb explode in midair, causing a hole in the side of its fuselage. That bomber was killed, and luckily all the passengers and crew were secure as the plane landed safely.
With more people doing business in the Middle East, travel to and from those countries has also seen an increase. The long flights are seen as an opportunity for these travelers to get work done using laptops and other devices. As a result of the embargo, some of the largest of the world’s travel hubs are sure to be affected.
Travelers to the Middle East Rethinking Non-Essential Travel
The implementation of the Middle East laptop ban is the cause for visitors to rethink travel plans to affected airports by Middle East airlines. Allowed to be brought into cabin are smartphones and necessary medical devices. But all other electronics must be checked with baggage. Accordingly, items that must be checked include anything larger than a smartphone. Along with laptops and tablets, cameras, portable DVD players, travel printers and scanners, and gaming devices all must be checked in with bags.
Travelers are speaking up, with many noting their disdain regarding the ban, which is causing them to rethink any non-essential travel plans. A passenger from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, who is a commentator on Arab affairs, notes that he flies to the U.S. at least three times a year. About the ban, he specifically stated, “This will make me think twice about going there for nonessential travel.”
Twitter has been set ablaze with the hashtag #laptopban, as outraged travelers voice their opinion. Wendy Muse tweeted, “Anyone who is a journalist, photographer, researcher, etc is screwed. We cannot chk these devices for fear of it all being stolen.”
A twitter remark by Slate directly called out the president, “Trump’s misguided, xenophobic laptop ban is a middle finger to business travelers.” Slate also tweeted and reported by BI Finance, was how Emirates is now using its spokesperson, Jennifer Aniston, in a commercial to take aim at the U.S. laptop ban.
Officials from the affected airports and airlines are speaking up about how the ban will depress their commerce. Duly, the specific response to the new regulation from Aqel Biltaji, the vice chairman of Royal Jordanian airlines, is that it will “scare away business.” The carrier has a hub at Amman’s Queen Alia Airport.
Middle East Airlines and Airports are Specifically Affected
Airports affected in the U.S.-Middle East ban are in Cairo, Egypt; Dubai and Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.; Istanbul, Turkey; Doha, Qatar; Amman, Jordan; Kuwait City; Casablanca, Morocco; and Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The U.K. ban affects airports in Jordan; Lebanon; and Tunisia along with Cairo, Egypt; Istanbul, Turkey; Jeddah and Riyadh, and Saudi Arabia
With nine airlines being told by the U.S. to enforce the Middle East laptop ban, it may cause visitor travel to affected airports to drop. The U.K. is requesting that 14 airlines comply with their ban.
The reason for banning electronic devices in carry-ons regarding the Middle East airlines is said to be in response to the belief that Al Qaeda, based in the Arabian Peninsula, has been preparing to hide explosives in personal electronics. The new explosives are believed to have very little metal components. Specifically noted is, there have been ongoing security issues at the Middle East airports. Authorities have detailed that threats of infiltration within positions of airport employees are a concern.
By Carol Ruth Weber
Edited by Cathy Milne
CNN Money: Laptop ban may force business travelers to skip Middle East airports
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Daily Mail: Now Britain BANS laptops on flights arriving from six countries including Turkey amid mounting fears over new terror tactics
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Los Angeles Times: Passengers react to ban on carry-on electronics on flights from the Middle East
Featured and Top Photo by Peter van der Sluijs Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License