U.S. Bans All Electronics Larger Than a Cellphone on Flights on 9 Airlines
Laptops, tablets and other electronics must be stored in checked baggage.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has banned passengers coming from 10 Middle Eastern and North African airports from bringing any devices into the cabin larger than a cellphone.
Devices such as iPads, computers, DVD players and cameras must now be stored in checked baggage, according to an order released at 3 a.m. Tuesday, TIME reported. Necessary medical devices are excluded.
The airports included in the ban are in Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, and the order will affect Royal Jordanian, Egypt Air, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates, and Etihad Airways.
Royal Jordanian first broke news of the ban in an announcement to passengers on Monday, although the airline incorrectly stated the rule also appied to flights from the U.S.
The federal administration made this move following intelligence gained during a raid in Yemen claiming that terrorists were attempting to smuggle bombs into the U.S. via commercial electronics, Reuters reported.
All countries involved are majority-Muslim, though President Donald Trump’s administration insisted that the rule had nothing to do with the recent immigration order. The government “did not target specific nations. We relied upon evaluated intelligence to determine which airports were affected,” a Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman told Reuters.
The rule applies to all passengers on these flights, including U.S. nationals, however it does not apply to flights from the U.S. to the airports on the list. It will not affect passengers on U.S. airlines, as no domestic carriers fly directly from these airports to the U.S., according to the same Reuters report.
Members of government informed the airlines that the new procedures must be put in place in the next 96 hours, and one expert warned that the rule risks being poorly received.
“The Middle Eastern and North African airports affected are nearly all ones with close, friendly relations with Washington, so this will be seen by some as a drastic and unpopular measure,” wrote Frank Gardner, the BBC’s security correspondent.
“Wealthy Gulf Arab business leaders flying to the U.S., for example, will no longer be able to work on their laptops mid-flight.”
The U.K. is expected to follow suit in issuing similar restrictions on Middle Eastern carriers, Sky News reported. Their ban would similarly prohibit passengers on inbound flights from six countries — Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia — from bringing electronics onboard that were larger than a cell phone.