On the 21 March the US Department of Homeland Security declared a ban on all electronic devices larger than a smartphone as carry-on luggage on flights to the US from certain hubs in the Middle East and North Africa. The UK quickly followed with similar restrictions. In the following article Travelstart seeks to answer all your travel queries arising from these unusual travel restrictions.
US Electronics Restrictions
If I am flying to the the US will I be affected?
If you are flying directly from SA to the US with no layovers on carriers such as SAA, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines you will not be affected.
Six airlines operating indirect services to the US out of SA use hubs included in the ban- the airlines and hubs affected are Emirates (DXB), Turkish Airlines (IST), Etihad (AUH), Qatar (DOH), EgyptAir (CAI) and Saudia (JED).
If you have a flight booked to the US and you’re travelling on Emirates, Qatar, Etihad, Turkish Airlines, Saudia Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian and EgyptAir you will need to observe the restrictions.
Emirates Customers can use their electronic devices till the last possible moment at their Dubai International Airport (DXB) boarding gate if they need to. They can then hand them into Emirates care just before boarding their US bound flight.
Special boxes will be available at the boarding gates, to secure and stow these banned devices in the aircraft hold. There will be no additional baggage charge to pack these banned items. These boxes will have priority and will arrive before checked baggage at the other end.
Turkish Airlines Update:
You may carry your electronic devices on board flights ex South Africa, up until Istanbul Ataturk Airport.
At the boarding gates in Istanbul for your onward journey to the USA and UK these prohibited electronic devices will be handed to the ground handling staff who in turn will place these devices in special packaging to securely stow these prohibited devices in the aircraft hold.
On arrival these devices will be taken to a designated zone in the baggage reclaim area for passenger convenience. Kindly be advised that all valuable items checked in will be at your own risk and should be declared with the relevant insurance companies prior to travelling.
Guests wishing to carry their larger electronic devices to Abu Dhabi Airport en route to the US will be guided to a re-packing point before screening at the airport’s US Immigration facility. You will be asked to pack these items into specially provided secure cases, which will be stored in the aircraft’s cargo hold, for your collection on arrival in the US.
The ban does not affect flights leaving from the US towards Abu Dhabi & beyond. Any guests travelling to the UK via Abu Dhabi are not affected by the directive from the UK authorities for UK-bound travel.
Qatar Airways is offering passengers a laptop loan service that takes their award-winning five-star reputation to new heights. The Doha-based airline has taken the notable step to purchase laptops available for loan on all of their US flights.
Ethiopian Airlines is not affected by the ban
Passengers transiting to points in North America and United Kingdom through Addis Ababa, Bole International Airport can carry their electronic devices in the cabin.
What can I take as carry-on luggage?
Smartphones, cellphones, spare batteries, medical devices, and power banks.
What can’t I take on as carry-on luggage?
· Portable DVD players
· Electronic game units larger than a smartphone
· Travel printers/scanners
Important to note:
Remember that your cell phone and permitted electronic devices must be charged on arrival in the US.
If I am returning from my holiday in the US will I be affected?
No, there are no restrictions on larger electronics leaving the US as carry-on luggage.
What if I am travelling within the US?
You will not be affected, there are no restrictions on domestic airlines within the US.
Check your ticket, if you are flying through the following 10 airports you will need to comply with the ban:
· 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)
UK Electronic Restrictions
The UK followed with its own ban on devices larger than 16cm x 9,3cm x 1,5cm on flights from Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other countries that do not have services to SA namely Tunisia and Lebanon.
The UK has not included flights from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha in the ban.
Am I affected if I am flying to the UK from SA?
Yes, you will be affected if you are flying to the UK via Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia with the exception of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha.
The carriers listed below are affected by the ban:
Image courtesy of CNN
Airports affected by the UK Ban:
· Mohammed V International, Casablanca, Morocco
· Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
· Cairo International Airport, Egypt
· Queen Alia International, Amman, Jordan
· King Abdulaziz International, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
· King Khalid International, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
· Kuwait International Airport
· Hamad International, Doha, Qatar
· Abu Dhabi International, United Arab Emirates
· Dubai International, United Arab Emirates
What you can do to protect your baggage:
- Have your bag wrapped, particularly if you’re going through OR Tambo International Airport.
- Make sure your electronics are insured before departure.
- Revise your travel insurance policy.
- Cushion your electronics to prevent damage.
Carriers such as Qatar Airways are providing special assistance to passengers securing their devices in the aircraft’s baggage hold.
What is the reasoning behind the ban?
Officials say this is not a power play by the Trump Administration. According to the CNN an “aviation official informed CNN that he was told firsthand by an intelligence official that this electronics ban was not a ‘political move'”. The ban has been enacted due to rising security concerns.
Security experts both agree and disagree with the ban- proponents of the ban say that an explosive in the hold is much more difficult to detonate remotely. Opponents say this ban singles out specific airlines and countries unfairly, is xenophobic and is unlikely to make flying safer as it is technically equally possible to use a smartphone as a weapon as it is to use a larger electronic device such as a laptop.