In the soap opera known as ‘Will There, Or Won’t There Be An Electronics Ban’ it appears that the latest chapter suggests that we may not have much to worry about.
Speaking at the International Summit on Borders, Homeland Security boss John Kelly state that he ‘has a fair amount of confidence’ with the notion that aviation security measures can be improved and increased, thus benefiting passengers.
He added “The good news is, I think … with a fair amount of confidence, that we can raise the level overall of aviation security and not inconvenience the traveling public very much, if at all in some cases and just really add to the security and get our arms around”
Though he didn’t altogether come out say there’s nothing to worry about regarding a ban, it appears that he may be less keen than he was a few weeks ago on ruining travel for millions of people.
Let’s see how the story changes in the coming days and weeks. It seems like we get alternating positions from Homeland Security as far as the ban is concerned.
Citing recent terrorist attacks in France, the UK, Sweden, and Russia, the US State Department today issued an alert asking Americans traveling to Europe to take extra precautions and increase their vigilance during their travels. The alert is to remain in place until September 1, 2017.
The alert itself cited no specific threat, but simply asks that Americans do their due diligence when traveling in countries that may carry extra risks to visitors.
The text, exactly as released by the State Department on May 1, 2017:
Earlier today, headlines started to pop up suggesting that the TSA was entertaining the idea of expanding the current Laptop ban to include the whole of Europe, including the UK. Mind you, this is a TSA that has a 95% failure rate when it comes to screening tests.
Currently the ban applies to certain carriers operating from certain Mid-Eastern countries, so news of the ban being expanding comes as a bit of a frustrating surprise.
Homeland Security officials in the USA have not commented on this other than the generic and predictable ‘We’re considering all options and have not made any decisions’ type of worthless commentary.
Any new policy or expansion of the existing version would mean that a device larger than a ‘Smart Phone’ would be considered too large to bring aboard, including any kind of laptop or tablet device.
Maybe at this point, major US and European carriers will speak up against the ridiculous policy and sway their respective governments. Now that the shoe may be put on the other foot, lets see how non-Mideast carriers will respond.
Predictably to this point, the non-M/E carriers have not spoken out against the current ban since the existing policy hurts their competitors. Let’s see what kind of whining we’ll get if everyone has to play by the same rules, regardless of how stupid and ineffective the rules would be.
The United Kingdom has following in the wake of the TSA and has announced that they too will ban certain electronic devices from being brought aboard certain flights operating to the UK from the Mid East.
The UK lists differs from the US version in that it includes airlines other than those based in the Mid East, and also covers countries that are not on the TSA’s list.
Specifically, the airlines impacted by the UK ban include:
Atlas Global, British Airways, Easy Jet, Jet2, Thomas Cook, Monarch, Turkish Airlines, Middle East Airlines (MEA), Egyptair, Saudia, Royal Jordanian, and Tunis Air.
The countries affected by the UK ban include direct flights from:
Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, and Tunisia.
According to various outlets, there appears to be a bit of an Intelligence Alert by various government agencies warning that there may be terror attacks planned that would involve the use of electronics brought aboard aircraft.
The ban prohibits any electronic device large than a smart phone, including iPads, large cameras, and laptops from being brought on board, forcing passengers to pack these items in their checked luggage.
In news coming out in drips this afternoon, the TSA announced that it was implementing a ban which would prevent certain electronics from being in the passenger cabin on flights originating from 8 Mid Eastern / North African countries, and specifically 10 airports within those countries (According to the AP). I’ve seen some outlets suggest that the list of countries may be as high as 13. The airlines that are affected are NOT American or European based carriers.
It appears the airlines being targeted for this ban are several Mideast and North African carriers including Royal Jordanian and Saudia. The airlines in question received confidential emails today from the TSA alerting them to the forthcoming policy change. Thus far, only Royal Jordanian and Saudia have come forward with any announcements (at least at the time that I published this post). It is thought that up to 12-15 airlines may be impacted by this ban.
The TSA has thus far been cryptic with who the 8 (or 13) countries are, or which specific airlines are affected by the ban. What is clear is that the TSA has mandated that this ban is in effect within 96 hours. This ban applies not only to the airlines serving the USA, but also to their passengers that may be transiting to the USA through connecting flights. For example, if a passenger on Saudia was flying from Riyadh to New York via Montreal, but on an Air Canada flight from ‘YUL’, they would have to check the banned devices on all carriers since their ultimate destination is the USA.
The ban specifically states that any electronic equipment larger than a Smart Phone would need to be packed with checked luggage and not brought into the cabin. From the sound of ban, it appears that larger cameras would be subject to the ban as well. The ban does not included medically necessary equipment such as oxygenators, etc.
A similar policy was in put in place temporarily in 2014 that required passengers to power up devices during security screenings to confirm that the electronics were functional. However this announcement takes it a step further, banning the larger devices from the cabin altogether.
The TSA announced that more information would be forthcoming shortly.