My Advice Regarding the New Electronics Ban

New electronics banBig news today: Passengers traveling to the U.S. on non-stop flights from on any of nine airlines—Egypt Air, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Kuwait Airways, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Saudia Airlines, and Turkish Airlines—that operate from 10 airports—Queen Alia International Airport (AMM), Cairo International Airport (CAI), Ataturk International Airport (IST), King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED), King Khalid International Airport (RUH), Kuwait International Airport (KWI), Mohammed V Airport (CMN), Hamad International Airport (DOH), Dubai International Airport (DXB), and Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)—will be barred from bringing any electronic device larger than a cell phone onboard. That means all computers, cameras, e-readers, iPads, etc. will have to be placed in checked luggage. Medical devices are okay.

According to the DHS: “Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation and are aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items. Based on this information, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Transportation Security Administrator Acting Administrator Huban Gowadia have determined it is necessary to enhance security procedures for passengers at certain last point of departure airports to the United States.” The countries being targeted are Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the UAE. The ban is indefinite.

In August of 2006, Britain and the United States temporarily had a similar ban after the two governments foiled a plot to take down “10 U.S.-bound passenger jets with liquid explosives hidden in carry-on luggage.” That’s the day the liquid ban went into effect.

That was also the day I happened to have an early morning flight from London’s Gatwick airport to Olbia, Sardinia. Back then news didn’t spread that fast and I didn’t have my phone on due to expensive international data rates so I had no idea—nor did anyone else seem to know what was going on.

There was complete chaos, and, for the first hour, I thought it was just the airline’s lack of organization. It was totally packed; you couldn’t even walk. I have never seen a place so crowded. I waited in line to check in for 4.5 hours. I moved just a few feet the first two hours. Everyone was very well-behaved. I was lucky, because my flight got out (at 1:15pm). Most that were scheduled to depart just 20 minutes after mine were either canceled or delayed substantially.

I remember airport agents handed out clear plastic bags so passengers could carry on the few personal items they were allowed (wallet, medicine, passports, and glasses). I had to check—for the first time ever—my computer, cameras, phone, and all the other stuff. It was nerve-racking. I debated if I should even take a chance, but fortunately nothing was stolen or damaged.

Back to the new electronics ban. If you’re traveling on one of the affected flights, my advice is to just pack smart, back up all your data and save it to the cloud, arrive at the airport early, bring your phone charger or buy one in the airport, and bring some good reading material. However, the safest option—so you don’t get your expensive and fragile devices lost, stolen or damaged—is to switch to a connecting flight via Europe. It probably won’t be cheap but it might save you in the long run and it will give you a peace of mind.

If you’re booked on the Emirates non-stop from Dubai to the U.S., you can also see if they’ll move you to one of their one-stops through Milan or Athens en route to the U.S.

UPDATED 12:32pm ET: The United Kingdom just announced they are going to have a similar ban on electronic devices. Let’s hope this doesn’t spread like the liquid ban did in 2006. Flying would go back to feeling like a chore and be so boring. What will parents do with small children?

You know the airport bookstores and newsstands are hoping it sticks.

 

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My Advice Regarding the New Electronics Ban
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About the Author

Johnny Jet
I used to be afraid to fly and at times even leave the house! I conquered my fear (long story) and now I travel to 20+ countries a year sharing my firsthand knowledge, tips and deals with friends, family and readers. Please sign up to our free newsletters and tell your friends!

5 Comments on "My Advice Regarding the New Electronics Ban"

  1. If this ban spreads like the liquid ban, it could spell problems for many carriers. Air Canada Rouge does not have an in-flight entertainment system, but requires travellers to bring their own electronics and download an app prior to departure. Can you imagine a nine hour flight with zero entertainment? We will all have to learn how to read….but only paper-based materials!

  2. William Chinn | March 21, 2017 at 10:13 am | Reply

    Picture takers can easily travel with $3k worth of equipment that would have been carry-on. Do the airlines offer any guarantee of non-damage? Of course not. The airlines and tourism will take a big hit unless they can figure out an alternative. Remember when electronics had to be broken down for inspection?

  3. Yes it may be a little inconvenient. But if that’s what it takes to save lives then I am all for it. If we cannot find something to occupy our time then we are in pretty bad shape.

  4. I am not for this. Its like terrorist ju jitsu. Using our own strength against ourselves, when those who would do us harm are weak and can do very little. We have this warped notion that all aspects of life can be made safe. It can’t be done, but we persist in stripping away rights in order to try. Most people need to work on flights. I am well over 100k miles per year and I’ll take the risk thank you very much.

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