Late yesterday, Royal Jordanian Airlines gave passengers a heads-up of an impending ban on electronic devices for flights from Jordan to the USA. In a since-deleted post on the company’s Twitter account, Royal Jordanian said “carrying any electronic or electrical device on board the flight (to the U.S.) cabins is strictly prohibited.”
What we didn’t know at the time was that the ban not only included Royal Jordanian Airlines but eight other carriers including Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways. The ban will apply at ten airports located in the Middle East and North Africa.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) informed the affected airlines at 03:00am ET and is expected to make a formal announcement later on Tuesday. Airlines hit by the restrictions will have 96 hours to implement the ban.
Prohibited items include all laptop computers, tablets and digital cameras – although, smaller devices like mobile phones and essential medical equipment will still be allowed onboard. The ban will apply to both passengers and crew.
Since last year, U.S authorities have imposed extra checks on electronic devices that are carried in the passenger cabin. This followed intelligence that suggested terrorists were attempting to hide explosives in items like computers and phones. Passengers have been expected to turn on their devices to prove that they work and were not concealing an explosive device.
It’s not yet known why these nine airlines and ten airports have been hit by the new order and why current checks aren’t sufficient to protect passengers. Critics have already likened the order to another ‘Muslim Ban.’ No U.S. based carriers are understood to be affected.
All prohibited items will be expected to be checked into hold luggage but this flies in the face of current restrictions on lithium batteries. Airlines including Emirates and Etihad normally require lithium batteries to be carried in the passenger cabin because of the risk of fire.
Emirates now flies to 12 destinations in the USA. It started its new service from Athens to Newark on 12th March and only began flying to Fort Lauderdale in December.
The full list of affected airports are:
- Queen Alia International, Amman, Jordan
- Cairo International Airport, Egypt
- Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
- King Abdulaziz International, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
- King Khalid International, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
- Kuwait International Airport
- Mohammed V International, Casablanca, Morocco
- Hamad International, Doha, Qatar
- Dubai International, United Arab Emirates
- Abu Dhabi International, United Arab Emirates
A full statement from the Department of Homeland Security is expected later today.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.