The Trump administration is imposing an electronics ban for passengers flying from 10 airports in eight countries from North Africa and the Middle East.
U.S.-bound travellers carrying anything larger than a cellphone — such as a laptop, tablet or portable DVD player — will now have to store the device in a checked bag if they’re flying non-stop out of the affected countries, which are Muslim-majority and several are U.S. allies.
The airports are in Amman, Jordan; Cairo; Kuwait City, Kuwait; Doha, Qatar; Dubai and Abu Dhabi, both in United Arab Emirates; Istanbul; Casablanca, Morocco; Riyadh and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Officials said the ban isn’t related to President Trump’s revised executive order that banned citizens of other Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for 90 days.
A Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman said the agency “did not target specific nations. We relied upon evaluated intelligence to determine which airports were affected.”
The electronics ban impacts nine airlines that fly into the U.S. from these cities on a daily basis. U.S. airlines aren’t impacted because they don’t fly directly in or out of the cities, officials said.
The affected airlines have until Friday to begin complying with the new order, according to the government.
U.S. citizens, however, are subject to the electronics ban, which DHS said will “remain in place until the threat changes.” Airline workers are exempt from the rules, and large medical devices aren’t subject to the ban.
DHS could also expand the ban to airports in more cities.
The ban comes after reports that terror groups plan to smuggle explosives in everyday electronic devices, as well as target commercial airlines.
DHS in a statement said the ban “seeks to balance risk with impacts to the traveling public and has determined that cell phones and smart phones will be allowed in accessible property at this time.”
But confusion ensued as the new policy was enacted on Tuesday morning. Officials at Cairo International Airport said they hadn’t been given any guidelines on the ban. Passengers on an EgyptAir flight to New York were allowed to carry on devices such as laptops and cameras when it departed, Egyptian officials added.
Royal Jordanian Airlines — whose flights to New York, Chicago, Detroit and Montreal will be affected — said it hasn’t started enforcing the rules because it hasn’t gotten anything from U.S. agencies either, but expects that to come later Tuesday.
With News Wire Services