It’s been an interesting 24 hours. I saw news of a travel electronics ban pop up yesterday but I’ve been buried in work stuff. As I come up for air, there’s news you need to know about this ban. The ban creates many challenges, and I haven’t even begun to fully contemplate the impact it will have. Let’s start with what we do know.
According to Live and Let’s Fly, if you’re traveling from the following cities in the Middle East via plane, you won’t be able to bring any electronics larger than a smartphone into the cabin with you:
- Kuwait City
- Doha, Qatar
- Abu Dhabi
View From The Wing, who was at the forefront of reporting on this, notes that it’s odd that an airport with a US Pre-Clearance outpost is subject to these regulations. We’ll get back to that in a moment, because…..
According to One Mile at a Time, the UK is also introducing a ban on electronics, but from a different list of countries:
- Saudi Arabia
You’ll note this list doesn’t include places like Abu Dhabi, which absolutely has direct flights to the UK. The UK directive calls out dimensions of items larger than 16cm (6.3 inches) in length, 9.3cm (3.66 inches) width & 1.5cm (.6 inches) depth.
Unsurprisingly, this seems to be just larger than the dimensions of my iPhone 7plus.
Both the US and UK bans appear to be effective immediately, with expected enforcement within the next few days.
What We Don’t Know
There’s no concrete answer on why these restrictions are being enforced. The fact that the US and UK list of countries don’t match each other is notable. They’re both enforcing these bans on electronics for some reason, likely intelligence about a new terrorist threat. If it was just the US acting in this fashion, I’d lean towards an overreaction by the Trump administration since they’re previous travel bans were nixed. Now, I’m not so sure.
Ben asks a good question. Is a digital SLR camera included in these restrictions? Even the smallest of cameras are generally thicker than my iPhone.
Enforcement of this ban is going to be really interesting. It can’t easily be done at security unilaterally, since they’re clearing folks to many different airports. Does that mean we get gate inspections like the ones for bottled water at certain airports (Panama and Hong Kong come to mind)?
Theft in checked luggage of these items is bound to go up. It just has to.
I’m not entirely sure where we go from here, but it’s going to be much more difficult for people to travel going forward. Security might start to look more like this in the future:
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