#ElectronicsBan: Valid through October 2017. Important information for (Indian) travellers, applies to everyone else too!

I’ve been tracking the development of the USA security Electronics Ban since the past 16 hours now, and important information is now beginning to trickle out. I first wrote about the ban yesterday, when Royal Jordanian implemented it. Then, Saudia confirmed it also, sort of. However, guess work was ongoing about who is impacted and how.

Emirates has confirmed the ban will last for their travelers through October 2017.

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I figured I would write a quick recap of what we know now and how it impacts us. I figured this recap is necessary since Indians fly all the times to the US of A using carriers based in the Middle-East, and sometimes in Africa as well.

To recap, any flights originating from the following airports and flying to the USA are affected by the new ban on electronics:

  • Amman (AMM)
  • Abu Dhabi (AUH)
  • Cairo (CAI)
  • Casablanca (CAS)
  • Dubai (DXB)
  • Doha (DOH)
  • Istanbul (IST)
  • Jeddah (JED)
  • Kuwait City (KWI)
  • Riyadh (RUH)

Since American carriers don’t fly to these airports, it means flights operated by the following carriers, including the big 3 of Middle East,  will be affected:

  • Etihad Airways
  • Emirates
  • Qatar Airways
  • Egypt Air
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Kuwait Airways
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Royal Jordanian
  • Saudia

Does it affect me?

If you originate from any country and connect at the airports above, even then you are covered by the Electronics Ban till further notice. Which means, for example, if you are flying Mumbai – Abu Dhabi – New York, your electronic devices apart from your mobile phone or medical implants, need to go in your checked baggage and not hand-baggage. Again, technically, your devices can travel on your person between Mumbai to Abu Dhabi, but since your bags would usually transit AUH and not be collected by you, hence, you need to get your electronics in your bag from your origin itself.

On the other hand, if you are flying, for instance Mumbai – Newark on Air India or Mumbai – Amsterdam – Washington DC on Jet Airways/KLM, this new operating procedure does not apply to you.

It seems the information about the ban has now formally been passed on to these airlines on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at 3 AM EST by the Department of Homeland Security, and they have 96 hours to comply with this. I seriously wonder who picked the unearthy hour of 3 AM to notify the ban.

Why these places?

I would like to avoid speculation at this moment but the US of A is making a case that this is due to actionable intelligence on their end. The ban will continue infinitely till further notifications are issued.

How does it impact you?

Business travellers would be the most affected. For Indian travellers, and perhaps even for Chinese and others in the sub-continent, the Middle-East was a nice hub to transfer through because of the good quality of flight offerings and almost reasonable prices. So, if you are on one of the carriers listed above and will be travelling to the US of A shortly, do contact your airline for new instructions about how to fly with your electronics. This sounds as much as going back to the stone age, but I really can’t help but wonder how this will pan out.

Are the Airlines playing ball?

As per this CNN report,

Etihad Airways in the United Arab Emirates said Tuesday it had received a directive from the U.S. government and was reviewing it. Emirates, another big carrier from the UAE, said it hadn’t yet received any notification but would “comply with any new operational or regulatory requirements issued by the relevant authorities.”

Turkish Airlines also confirmed that it had received a notice.

Saudi Arabian Airlines told its customers in a statement on Twitter that new measures from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration include a ban on laptops and tablets, like iPads and Kindles, in carry-on baggage on flights to the U.S. The measure will take effect Wednesday, it said.

Royal Jordanian Airlines tweeted Monday that it will ban most electronics from the cabins on its flights to and from its North American destinations. It later deleted its tweet without explanation.

The Amman, Jordan-based carrier said that starting Tuesday it will only allow phones and medical devices to be carried in the cabin of its flights. All other electronics would be “strictly prohibited.” The airline cited “concerned U.S. departments” without offering additional explanation.

Bottomline

This is real and not only will this impact people travelling from the Middle East, but the entire Indian sub-continent as well, where people prefer to use the Middle-Eastern carriers for their travel to the US of A. And a lot of them do travel to the US. So, brace for impact.

Comments

  1. This is fast developing. The US says it has specific intelligence about the threat and responding to that. However, the airports seem to be carefully chosen so that all 4 of the big ME4 (Emirates, Qatar, Etihad, Turkish) carriers are affected, and all US3 (American, Delta, United) carriers are not.

    For example, a good case can be made that Dakar, Senegal and Lagos, Nigeria are pretty risky places. However, Delta flies from there and those countries are excluded.

    On the other hand, Doha, Qatar has a US pre-clearance facility: After Doha’s regular security screeing, there is a second screening under US supervision as well as US immigration and customs inspections, and the flight lands in the USA as a “domestic” flight. Nevertheless, no US carrier flies there, and the airport is included in the electronics ban, apparently to rope in Qatar.

    Airlines as well as most insurance will not cover damage / theft of electronics. Therefore, if you are visiting USA and only *connecting* in one of these airports, pack your electronics (other than phones) in bubble-wrap and surround by clothes, towels etc. on all sides. Then lock the suitcase and get it shink-wrapped to deter casual theft.

    Finally, business travelers or anyone who must use a laptop during these long flights, see if it is possible for you to reroute via Europe, Canada, or some other creative routing. This may not be possible if your flight is in the next few days, but should be an option for planned future travel. Talk to your airline or travel agent.

  2. This is another sickening way to protect the US3 Airlines who could not compete with the ME3 and TK. Affects their future bookings to a large extent. We could see higher prices on SQ, AI , DL etc. Terrible inconvinience to the passengers. Definitely doesnt look like a security issue to me.

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