The UK is now banning laptops as hand luggage too...
Now the UK has changed their rules too (but the UAE isn’t affected), but it’s predicted that other countries will follow suit…
Flying from the UAE to the US? Well, as of March 25 you won’t even be able to take your Kindle on as hand luggage. Even if just transiting through Dubai.
Yesterday, Donald Trump’s US administration banned passengers travelling through the UAE from carrying large electronic devices on airplanes as hand luggage. The ban extends to 10 airports in eight countries that are Muslim majority.
The UK has followed suit, although Britain has excluded the UAE from the ban – the UK has instead banned electronic devices as hand luggage on flights from Tunisia, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. The UK’s ban affects some of the country’s national carriers, like British Airways and Easy Jet, while the US’ ban doesn’t affect any of its own airlines.
The UK has not included Kuwait and the UAE on their ban, while the US has. Both Dubai International and Abu Dhabi International are on the affected airports list for US travel.
The ban is effective from March 25 until October 14.
It’s also predicted that Australia will follow suit and implement a ban: aviation security expert Geoff Aksew told ABC Radio that it is “reasonably likely” Australia will implement a ban too.
SO WHY ARE THEY DOING THIS?
The media reports suggest that the US government is looking into making these changes in response to a threat they received several weeks ago.
In 2014, the Transportation Security Administration in the USA had some passengers show that their electronics could power up before boarding to ensure no explosives were hidden in the devices.
Last year a plane originating from Somalia had a bomb hidden in a laptop on board: this blew a hole in the side of the plane, but didn’t down the aircraft.
Or perhaps it’s a protectionist move? A roundabout plan to stifle the Middle East (or more specifically the GCC) as an international travel and transit hub? Food for thought.
A story in The Intercept states that US airlines met with Trump earlier this year and asked him to punish State-owned Gulf airlines, which they see as being a big drain on their business.
Another discussion point is the fact that terror threats are global and could originate from anywhere, so why just ban some airlines/airports?
David C. Gomez, a retired FBI counterterrorism executive pointed out on Twitter that the ban “ignores the realities of terrorist behaviour”. Why? Well passengers could “fly to London, Paris, [or] Amsterdam and switch carriers” and then fly to the US.
“If truly a threat, why allow devices to be stowed in luggage and then placed in cargo hold?” he asked.
Canadian security journalist Michelle Shepherd actually compared the effects of the ban to terrorism on Twitter: “One point of terrorism – to state the obvious – is to instill fear. This does that. Also, disrupt economy & way of life. Check & check.”
IT MAY ACTUALLY BE MORE DANGEROUS?
Putting many lithium-ion batteries in the hold of a commercial airliner has its own issues too, as pointed out by Robert W Mann Jr, president of the airline industry analysts RW Mann & Company.
He told The Guardian that rechargeable batteries are often recalled because they pose a risk of fire, and having them all in the hold isn’t necessarily a good idea.
He also pointed out the competitive element: “It seems to create a competitive disadvantage for those carriers flying nonstop from those 10 points. It will have a competitive effect whether or not that’s the intended result,” Mann said.