INTRODUCTION

You will probably have seen by now, that there is to be a so-called ‘laptop-ban’ on certain flights to the States.

We thought we would do a little research and dig out the key facts, to see if this situation affects travelers generally.

First of all, it’s not a ‘laptop ban’ at all.The ban applies to certain Middle-East and North African airports and does not mean you cannot take your laptop on board.Rather, it means that your laptop will have to be stored in the hold instead of being hand-luggage.

Indeed it does not just apply to laptops, but all electronics larger than a mobile phone. So portable DVD players, tablets and cameras are also affected.

WHICH AIRPORTS ARE INVOLVED ?.

As mentioned, they are airports from Arab destinations (though by no means all).Here is the full list:

Cairo, Istanbul, Kuwait City, Doha, Qatar, Casablanca, Morocco, Amman, Jordan, Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia; and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

Nine airlines have direct flights from these airports to the U.S.A. (up to fifty times per day). They are Royal Jordanian Airlines, Egypt Air, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways.

British regulations are slightly different; applying to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. Airlines affected are: British Airways, easyJet, Jet2, Monarch, Thomas Cook, Thomson, Atlas-Global, Pegasus, EgyptAir, Royal Jordanian, Middle East Airlines, Saudia, Turkish Airlines and Tunisair

Strangely enough, the list is not the same as the travel ban (this was Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, which were banned from traveling to the United States for 90 days). The U.S. government seems at pains to point out that this is in response to a different, and as yet unspecified, threat.

The electronics ban will affect citizens of ANY nation traveling between these destinations. The inclusion of Dubai and Istanbul in this list is of particular concern, as these are key stop-over points for passengers from Asia and Australia.It is expected that there will be significant delays as airport checks will increase, and unsuspecting travelers have to transfer equipment to checked-in luggage. Passengers joining these flights from European destinations will not be affected.

Rather oddly, the ban does not apply to flights from the States to these destinations, nor to aircrew.Similarly, U.S. F.A.A. (Federal Aviation Authority) guidelines state that devices with lithium-ion batteries be taken on board as hand luggage, because of fire safety issues. These batteries power laptops, in-flight tablets, and cameras.The Turkish government has condemned the ban as unnecessary.

It seems that the ban, which began on March 21st, will last until October 14th. Airlines and Airports affected were given 96 hours notice.

Exemptions will be made for essential medical equipment.

CONSEQUENCES

Travel experts have been quick to point out some side -effects of the ban:

Firstly, flights from these areas have many business travelers, who will be unable to work on their laptops in flight.

Secondly, many will be angry that electronic equipment with potentially sensitive political and business information will be out of sight.

Thirdly, valuable equipment, checked-in, is a godsend to thieves.

Fourthly, Budget airlines (in particular) will now be able to charge for extra checked-in items, meaning additional costs for passengers.

SUMMARY

U.S.and British Intelligence are obviously receiving information about potential threats.They are exactly that ‘potential threats’ and are taking cautious measures, which appear to be temporary.We think that caution is to be welcomed.

Air travel remains very safe.More Americans are killed by their lawnmowers every year than come to harm in the air !.