No personal electronic devices (PEDs) larger than a cellphone or smartphone, such as a laptop computer or e-reader, can be carried into the cabin of airplanes flying directly to the U.S. from 10 airports in the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey, the DHS and TSA announced on March 21, 2017.
Following are the airports:
- Abu Dhabi International Airport, Abu Dhabi
- Dubai International Airport, Dubai
- Cairo International Airport, Egypt
- Queen Alia International Airport, Jordan
- Kuwait International Airport, Kuwait
- Mohammed V Airport, Casablanca, Morocco
- Hamad International Airport, Qatar
- King Abdul-Aziz International Airport, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
- King Khalid International Airport, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
- Ataturk International Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
The carriers involved will have 96 hours, until early in the morning of March 25, to comply with this directive.
No American carriers are affected because none have direct flights to the U.S. from the 10 airports. Based on itineraries, the following carriers have been notified and will be affected:
- Egypt Air
- Emirates Airways
- Etihad Airways
- Kuwait Airways
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Air Maroc
- Royal Jordanian Airlines
- Saudi Arabian Airlines
- Turkish Airlines
All passengers will be subject to these restrictions, including U.S. citizens, regardless of Trusted Traveler Status. Approved medical devices will be allowed on board, but only after additional screening is conducted. TSA advises passengers with connections through one of the 10 airports to place large electronic devices into their checked baggage at their originating airport.
The DHS states that it has put these restrictions in place because “[the agency’s] information indicates that terrorist groups’ efforts to execute an attack against the aviation sector are intensifying . . . .” These restrictions will remain in effect indefinitely “until the threat changes.” TSA emphasizes that it “continually assesses and evaluates the current threat environment and adjusts security measures as necessary to ensure the highest levels of aviation security without unnecessary disruption to travelers.”
In addition to the new PEDs process, all travelers to the U.S. should be prepared for the possibility that their electronic devices might be “detained” for examination and inspection upon arrival in the U.S. Indeed, in February 2017, after the issuance of the first travel ban, Sidd Bikkannavar, a U.S.-born NASA scientist who works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory returning from Patagonia was held at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston until he agreed to unlock his phone.
Following the DHS announcement, the U.K. announced a similar restriction on direct flights to the U.K. affecting airports in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. This restriction will affect British carriers including British Airways as well as foreign carriers. Canada may soon announce such restriction as well.