Britain Bans Laptops On Flights From 6 Countries

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The U.S. government is barring passengers on certain nonstop flights from eight Middle Eastern and North African countries from bringing larger electronics in carry-on luggage.

The ban applies for nonstop flights to the U.S. from 10 airports based in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Quatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

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The policy includes any electronics larger than a smartphone, including laptops, iPads, cameras and other electronics. Those devices will now have to be checked. Medical devices are exempt.

“It really gets down to what they’re concerned about as to whether or not the electronic surveillance equipment that they have for security reasons at checkpoints, for the conveyor belts, can actually determine any sort of chemical weapons or chemical devices that may actually be hidden inside laptops,” CBS News travel expert Peter Greenberg told WCBS 880’s

The Department of Homeland Security said the ban is needed because, “Evaluated 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.”

The policy went into effect Tuesday, but airlines have 96 hours, or four days, to comply, CBS2’s Janelle Burrell reported. It is unclear how long the ban will last. It does not apply to any U.S. airlines.

Officials say it applies to 10 airports and nine airlines.

“There’s probably more flights coming from Middle East to New York and L.A. than any other airport,” airline expert Brian Sumers said. “We could see somewhere between three and seven a day that are affected by this ban.”

Officials say the new policy is based on intelligence developed overseas, although they say there is no specific threat.

“It’s going to be a mess over the next several days,” Sumer said.

At John F. Kennedy Airport, there was mixed reaction Tuesday from travelers about how effective the rules will be.

“You should be allowed with your iPad at least and your laptop,” said traveler Bernard Goldberg.

“Those flights are long, people  want to use that time to be productive,” said traveler Mary Tomich.

Others say whatever is necessary to ensure their safety.

“I think a good idea,” said traveler Fathajet Singh.

“It’s an inconvenience, but we’ll adapt and do what we need to,” said passenger Danny Johnson.

The carriers impacted by the ban are Royal Jordanian, Egypt Air, Turkish Airline, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, royal Air Marac, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways, CBS News reported.

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

Airlines Respond To Ban

The Mideast’s biggest airline, Dubai-based Emirates, confirmed that U.S.-bound passengers will be prevented from carrying electronic gadgets larger than cellphones on its planes.

Emirates said the new rules apply until October 14 and apply to all U.S.-bound passengers, including those transiting from other departure cities.

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Government-backed Emirates flies from Dubai to a dozen U.S. destinations, including New York, Chicago, Washington and Los Angeles.

EgyptAir says it has received instructions from U.S. authorities about the ban.

The state-run carrier said Tuesday that the new instructions received from JFK airport will be applied on its next first direct flight to New York on Friday and that all passengers will be informed in due time.

Before receiving the new ban details, EgyptAir’s New York-bound flight departed on Tuesday allowing passengers to take their laptops and other electronics on board in their carry-on luggage.

Qatar Airways issued a travel alert to passengers about the new U.S. security guidelines, saying Tuesday it has “made special arrangements to assist passengers in securing their devices in the aircraft’s baggage hold,” without elaborating.

Qatar Airways flies to multiple American cities from its hub in Doha, Qatar, including New York, Atlanta, Miami and Chicago.

Turkey’s transportation minister says his country is in talks with United States authorities to “stop or soften” the restriction.

Minister Ahmet Arslan objected to the restriction on Tuesday, saying it would reduce both the comfort and number of passengers, the private Dogan news agency reported.

Arslan urged the U.S. to “not confuse Istanbul with other places,” saying that Turkish authorities already take every possible security precaution. He added Turkey expects the issue to be resolved in the coming days.

Turkey’s main carrier, Turkish Airlines, posted a notice on its website informing passengers to not bring on board “any electronic or electrical devices larger than a cellphone or smartphone (except medical devices)” to flights arriving in U.S. destinations.

The United Arab Emirates’ national carrier, Etihad Airways, said it has not changed its policies regarding electronics in aircraft cabins.

It said in a statement on Tuesday that it will continue to work closely with American officials in the U.S. and at its base in Abu Dhabi, but for now its “policies have not changed.”

A spokesman for Royal Jordanian says the airliner has not yet started to enforce the new regulation.

Basel Kilani told The Associated Press that the airline is still awaiting formal instructions from the relevant U.S. departments, which could possibly come later on Tuesday.

Kilani says the new rules were not applied to Royal Jordanian’s direct flight that already departed on Tuesday from Jordan’s capital of Amman to New York.

Britain Imposes Similar Ban

Meanwhile, Britain’s government has also banned electronic devices in the carry-on bags of passengers traveling to the U.K. from six countries.

The government said in a statement that Prime Minister Theresa May chaired a meeting on aviation security earlier Tuesday in which it was agreed that new aviation security measures on all inbound direct flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

The statement says that Britain has been in touch with the Americans to fully understand their position.

Under the new arrangements, passengers on the flights “will not be allowed to take any phones, laptops or tablets larger than a normal sized mobile or smart phone,” into the cabin.

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(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)