The Reasons For the New Electronics Ban — Which Are Considered “Enhancements”

“E valuated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation and are aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items. Based on this information, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Transportation Security Administration Acting Administrator Huban Gowadia have determined it is necessary to enhance security procedures for passengers at certain last point of departure airports to the United States.”

The Reasons For the New Electronics Ban — Which Are Considered “Enhancements”

The paragraph you just read was extracted verbatim from this official announcement of the Office of Public Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security — I still despise that name since its creation — of the United States, which has listed ten specific airports that are affected by what are known as “aviation security enhancements”:

  • Queen Alia International Airport — AMM
  • Cairo International Airport — CAI
  • Ataturk International Airport — IST
  • King Abdul-Aziz International Airport — JED
  • King Khalid International Airport — RUH
  • Kuwait International Airport — KWI
  • Mohammed V Airport — CMN
  • Hamad International Airport — DOH
  • Dubai International Airport — DXB
  • Abu Dhabi International Airport — AUH

Large Electronic Devices: Impacted International Flights Bound for the United States

The “aviation security enhancements” — which is known more popularly and appropriately as an electronics ban — means that effective immediately, all personal electronic devices larger than a mobile telephone are required to be placed and secured in checked baggage at the aforementioned airports from which flights depart for the United States, as they will no longer be permitted in carry-on luggage or other accessible property in any passenger cabin aboard airplanes on the affected flights for the foreseeable future. The precise number of flights which will be affected will vary on a day-to-day basis.

As first mentioned in this article yesterday, necessary medical devices will be allowed to remain in the possession of the passenger after he or she has been screened.

Examples of large electronic devices which will not be allowed in the cabin on affected flights include — but are not limited to:

  • Laptop computers
  • Tablets
  • E-Readers
  • Cameras
  • Portable DVD players
  • Electronic game units larger than a mobile telephone
  • Travel printers or scanners

Reasons For the Electronics Ban

The federal government of the United States is concerned about the ongoing interest of terrorists in targeting commercial aviation — including at transportation hubs over the past two years — as evidenced by the following events, which were specifically named in this article of questions and answers released from the Department of Homeland Security and which were covered by me in articles here at The Gate:

2016 Attempted Airliner Downing in Somalia. A hole was blown out of the side of the fuselage of an Airbus A321-111 aircraft which operated as DAALLO Airlines flight 159, which departed from Mogadishu Airport bound for Djibouti on Tuesday, February 2, 2016. The hole was the result of an explosion — thought to be from a laptop computer which had been rigged with a timer device to explode the bomb during the flight — which occurred at an altitude of approximately 11,000 feet 20 minutes after departure while the airplane was still ascending to its cruising altitude of 30,000 feet. Of the 74 passengers and seven members of the flight crew aboard that airplane, only the bomber was killed in what is considered to be a suicide attack. Video is included in this article.

2015 Airliner Downing in Egypt. The crash of an Airbus A321-200 airplane which operated as Metrojet flight 9268 from Sharm el-Sheikh on its way to Saint Petersburg in Russia on Saturday, October 31, 2015 where all 224 people — comprised of 217 passengers and seven members of the flight crew — aboard the aircraft were killed.

2016 Armed Attacks Against Airport in Brussels. Two explosions occurred in the departures area of the main terminal at Zaventem Airport — which serves the greater Brussels metropolitan area — shortly after 8:00 in the morning local time on Tuesday, March 22, 2016; and the Maalbeek subway station of the Brussels Metro was affected an explosion approximately one hour later. Fatalities include 32 civilians and three perpetrators; while greater than 300 people were injured in the attacks.

2016 Armed Attacks Against Airport in Istanbul. Greater than 300 people were killed and more than 2,100 were injured in an attempted coup d’état which shut down all airline traffic in and out of Istanbul on Friday, July 15, 2016; and multiple people were wounded as a result of a minimum of two explosions and gunfire — supposedly directed from a parking lot at the airport, although video footage purports to show people running for cover inside the terminal building — which were reported at Istanbul Atatürk Airport on Tuesday, June 28, 2016. In addition to the three attackers, 45 people were killed and greater than 230 people were injured.

“Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items”, according to the aforementioned article of questions and answers. “Based on this trend, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), in consultation with relevant Departments and Agencies, has determined it is prudent to enhance security, to include airport security procedures for passengers at certain last point of departure airports to the United States. These enhancements include more stringent measures applied to 10 specific airports.”

Interestingly, these “aviation security enhancements” do not affect airlines based in the United States, as none of them have direct nonstop flights between the United States and the aforementioned ten airports. Speculation already considers the Open Skies debate between the three legacy airlines in the United States and the three major carriers based in the Persian Gulf region to be another possible reason for the draconian measure of banning portable electronic devices larger than a mobile telephone — and I cannot imagine that anyone at American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are opposed to the new policy…

…especially if this new policy potentially gives them what some people may consider an unfair advantage over Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways.

What You Can Do

“DHS will continue to adjust its security measures to ensure the highest levels of aviation security without unnecessary disruption to travelers.” I personally believe that these “aviation security enhancements” do cause unnecessary disruption to travelers — but hey…what do I know?!?

There is no impact on domestic flights in the United States or flights departing the United States; and electronic devices will continue to be allowed on all flights originating in — and departing from — the United States…

…but although there is not much you really can do, there are two courses of action you can take:

Include a stopover at a different airport prior to continuing to the United States. If you are screened at the airport during a stopover which is not one of the aforementioned ten airports, you will then be able to carry your portable electronic devices throughout the entire trip, as you are not traveling directly between either of the aforementioned ten airports and the United States…

…but the United Kingdom will adopt similar “aviation security enhancements” to that of the United States, according to this article from BBC News; so do not consider a stopover in London, as you will not be able to carry your portable electronic devices from the aforementioned ten airports to anywhere in the United Kingdom.

Suck it up and travel without your portable electronic devices. Regardless of the official announcement — which tends to counter safety measures of placing portable electronic devices in checked baggage — never place your portable electronic devices in checked baggage, where it has a greater chance of being damaged or stolen.

You can also consider shipping your portable electronic devices separately — although I would personally feel uncomfortable with that option as well. This course of action is only if you must travel directly on a nonstop flight between one of the aforementioned ten airports and the United States.

A third course of action would be to write to lawmakers and express dismay at such a drastic policy, as InsideFlyer member theblakefish intends to do; as well as to spread the word. Although I would encourage it, good luck with that one…

Summary

The new policy was leaked from an official “tweet” from Royal Jordanian Airlines yesterday, which has since been deleted.

That Abu Dhabi International Airport is included in the list is not logical, as passengers who board on airplanes for nonstop flights to the United States are screened at that airport by agents of the Transportation Security Administration. I have experienced that screening more than once — and I did not like it at all. I intend to detail my experiences in a future article — there really is nothing major that was all that bad — but I must say that that airport is the only one of the ten airport from which I have flown as a passenger on a nonstop flight to the United States.

“These enhanced security measures will only affect flights from 10 of the more than 250 airports that serve as last points of departure to the United States. A small percentage of flights to the United States will be affected” is of little comfort to those passengers who are impacted by the new policy — and the possibility of more airports being added to the list is not out of the question by any means…

…but then again, I am not surprised at how vague are the answers to the questions imparted to the Department of Homeland Security.

I intend to avoid flying as a passenger aboard an airplane on a nonstop flight from one of the aforementioned ten airports to the United States as long as this policy of banning most portable electronic devices is in effect.

Cairo International Airport — of which I imparted my personal experience — is one of the ten airports affected by the new “aviation security enhancements” which are effective immediately. Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

7 thoughts on “The Reasons For the New Electronics Ban — Which Are Considered “Enhancements””

  1. Jimmy says:

    Any chance it is a coincidence that no US airlines operate flights to those 10 airports and so won’t be affected?

    Seems like a sneaky way for the US government to put their thumb on the scale in the fight for business between US and Middle Eastern airlines.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I am not ruling out that theory, Jimmy

  2. Graydon says:

    It’s odd that the pending UK restrictions don’t fully mesh with the US restrictions especially if you consider a “shared intelligence” concept.

    I’m popping spare popcorn as this appears to be a very engaging topic quickly unfolding on the inter webs.

  3. D.A. Olson says:

    Well, well.

    Delta, AA and UA all had CEOs visiting the Whitehouse last week looking for a sympathetic ear on their continual whining about the ME3 and the their “subsidies”. Looky here what they got. Lets kill the ME3’s better business model by making it painful for their customers. Coincidence???

    And of course today’s UK Ban makes no mention of the ME3

  4. Nick says:

    I assume its OK to check your Ipad, laptop etc including all Lithium Ion batteries on any flight even in those in US now?

    1. Penguin says:

      @Nick, The FAA does not allow spare / bare Lithium Ion batteries in checked in luggage but it has always allowed installed batteries inside a proper electronic device like notebooks and cameras. And as you probably know, up to two large spare batteries are allowed in carry-ons.

      I don’t know about UK policies, though.

      https://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/hazmat_safety/more_info/?hazmat=7

  5. Hadley V. Baxendale says:

    NOT, YOU TOO — BRAIN!

    YOU ARE ONE OF THE MORE SANE VOICES HERE!

    READ: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/yemen-raid-led-to-laptop-ban/ar-BByyP8Q?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=U305DHP

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