BREAKING: US Implementing Onboard Electronics Ban for Travelers on 13 Airlines

Passengers flying to the US on more than a dozen airlines are going to be required to check in all electronics larger than a cell phone. It’s a nearly-complete onboard electronics ban.

A State Department officials says embassy officials have been notifying relevant countries and airlines.

An aviation official said U.S. carriers are not impacted because none flies directly from the countries in question to the U.S.

The rule will require “laptops, tablets, DVD players and electronic games must be stored in checked baggage for its flights.”

This puts lithium ion batteries in the baggage hold, which is generally considered dangerous because these batteries can catch fire (rarely, but with enough laptops and passengers across enough flights can happen).

Word first came out from Royal Jordanian on Twitter. Apparently the rule was issued to go into effect in or last 96 hours (which is not entirely clear) although it’s up to potentially 13 airlines from the Mideast and Africa to notify their passengers and the Department of Homeland Security is simply issuing ‘no comment’ in response to inquiries.

It’s not clear which airlines are covered so far or how long this will last. One imagines that the list of covered countries could include Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Egypt, Morocco, Cape Verde and Qatar. It might include Turkey.

Assuming the statement that US airlines aren’t covered because they do not fly to the affected countries, the ban would not apply to Israel, Ghana, or Senegal. However, we’ll know soon enough.

If the administration isn’t permitted to implement a ban on travel from certain countries in the region, perhaps they’re going to try to make travel so miserable for anyone coming from a Muslim country that people won’t bother?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. That’s quite a country you guys have. Amazing that you allow one sick moron destroy decades of good global relations.

  2. This was orchestrated by UA, DL & UA to create chaos for the ME carriers. This is a direct result of their meeting with Trump. Seems very suspicious.

  3. How more ashamed can I be of my country, the United States! Hopefully this will be challenged quickly! Mr. Trump is bringing out the very worst in us through “backdoor” actions like this! Thanks Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio! In your quest to return to “1953” this country is sadly changing for the worse overnight!

  4. Am I being an optimist? We still have lots of competent professionals left in the US government to act on intelligence that suggests an imminent attack. If I were flying from an affected country, first, I might think twice about what I’m doing. Second, I’d be happy to separate myself from anything considered a potential threat in the wrong hands.

  5. @Ella, can we try to decompose your optimism?

    1. Are you saying that this ban is somehow the result of intelligence that suggests an imminent attack? And if so, is it a good reaction to such intelligence, in your view?

    2. “I might think twice about what I’m doing” – what do you mean? The only “doing” here seems to be “flying from an affected country”, so are you saying that if you were flying from there, then you wouldn’t fly? I’m very confused by this sentence.

    3. Agreed on separating from potential threats. However, how are all electronics potential threats in someone’s hands but not in the hold? If a laptop disguises a bomb, it can go off in the hold too. What other possible threats are there? I suppose a sturdy laptop might be a good weapon if you smash someone’s face with it.

    Bonus: what do you say about lithium ion batteries? Safer to have them accidentally catch fire in the cabin where someone is much more likely to notice before it does a lot of damage.

    I’m an optimist too, otherwise I wouldn’t write the above 🙂

  6. I thought batteries are not supposed to be in checked bags. So now there’s supposed to be the batteries of 500 people on a plane in checked bags?! doesn’t seem very safe to me!

  7. RJ is saying flights to/from the USA. Gary writes only about flights to.

    Any clarification if this is just a one-way restriction or will it be in both directions?

    Does that judge in Hawaii have any openings on his docket?

  8. I have just applied to be a baggage handler. There is going to be so much good stuff to steal from checked bags I can hardly stand the excitement.

  9. Brilliant. Guess DonJohn saw another expose on Fox News and decided to write another executive order as a result. Oh wait, he is busy at his 2020 campaign rally, to celebrate his unbelievable accomplishments for world peace and prosperity and “draining the swamp” in only two months. But I’m sure as soon as the rally is over he’ll be tweeting about it to explain how it is making us all safer and richer and more America Firstian

  10. PS: I hear he and Kelly Ann are working on a microwave ban as well. To prevent the sneaky Brits from spying on us.

  11. I don’t like Trump, but these comments drip with paranoia. Obviously some intelligence about a threat involving electronic devices. Politicians don’t score points by making life more difficult for their voters.

  12. There must be solid Intel that there is a creditable threat involving electronics and likely explosives. I’m not sure how this will help if the same items are in the hold but at least someone is trying to protect aircraft. For folks to just assume that Trump doesn’t like laptops or whatever is short sighted. I say this as a person that deals with risk management involving corporations, aviation and public entities on a daily basis.
    My pure personal thoughts is that DHS, TSA, etc. felt they couldn’t ban cell phones without more backlash and being smaller they aren’t as big of a threat. The threat must be serious enough to override the lithium batteries in the hold threat. I’m preparing to travel to France, Turkey and Israel over the next few weeks. I’m not too excited to see how this plays out but I’m also not foolish enough to just play the “blame Trump” game at this point.
    I’m worried that anyone that is prepared to attack the USA like this would be prepared enough to detonate items in the hold with a cell phone using wifi or bluetooth like you would with an IED. There is also still the timer in the luggage issues. I assume the checked bags will undergo extreme checks with bomb detecting K-9’s, etc. as well.
    It will be interesting to see what is considered flights from the list of countries as many flights hub through places like London, Paris, etc. before the TATL portion of the flight.

  13. Sure david b, you don’t like trump…

    The average deplorable doesn’t travel by plane. As a matter of fact most don’t travel at all, they were told Satan lives in New York City and/or California.

    As for making their lives miserable, they sure don’t have the intellectual capacity to understand what will happen to their social security benefits and medical insurance in a few weeks, so these politicians are not afraid of making their lives more difficult.

  14. Proud Trump supporter, but I have to say I’m sad for many people that everything that is said or done by the government causes people to be so angry. Almost none of the things the president has done has had any real impact on most peoples daily lives. My best friend is liberal and that is really the only person I talk politics with, face to face with someone I care about, no need to say nasty or mean things to each other online. I hope people can move past the easy hate that exists online and just be kind to people whether they agree with your politics or not. I am trying to keep my online surfing to my passion for travel though even here it is hard to escape. Hope everyone can take stock of all the good things going on in our lives.

  15. So what is to stop anyone wanting to do harm with one of these devices from flying from one of these countries to another not on the list and coming into the US from there? This doesn’t make sense except in the context of harassing Arab and Muslim country’s carriers. Mr. Trump has made clear what kind of person he is. I am not inclined to pretend he is any different now than before. He is simply trying new methods to get his way. If we are supposed to trust the government and not be angry when the personal prejudices of our leaders interfere with our lives, give us leaders we might have a chance of trusting. I’m not convinced all Trump supporters are bad people, but I do believe they are mislead into thinking this man will do anything good for them. I hope many will see they are no better off in time and put an end to this. This nonsense has to stop. And if there is a real reason for this ban, give us something we can trust besides Trump’s “word.”

  16. The quickness to “blame Trump” for this is irresponsible. I am certain that it is not some anti-Muslim plot, but a reaction to very specific intelligence. That intelligence could be wrong — it often is — but I still think it wise to have some level of trust in our gov’t agencies. Otherwise, what’s the point of them?

  17. Y’all are missing the intent here. Recent court decisions around what people are allowed to search at the border (asking people to unlock laptops and cellphones) creates a lot of drama and unwanted attention. Once the laptop is in the checked bag, they can pull them, take and ship a disk image to the NSA and trivially access the entire disk for anyone who doesn’t turn on Full Disk Encryption – and even if they do, probably better than 80% that the NSA can crack a particular drive inside of a couple weeks. But 90%+ will be unencrypted.

    Then they place a little card in the bag saying “your luggage was searched” and they’re good to go. No one can tell that the disk was copied, and almost no one would ever notice, and no one gets up in arms about it.

    Pretty sly.

  18. There might be some solid intel that’s driving this. I don’t know.

    What I do know is that a competent agency, led by competent people, would issue clear and unambiguous directives.

    This has not happened. And, as the sign on Harry Truman’s Oval Office desk read, “The Buck Stops Here”, so responsibility for incompetent behavior from an executive branch agency rests squarely on the president.

  19. Have u tried to fly from Jordan and UAE, security is a top priority. It is very very secure and safe to travel from these countries more than most EU countries and USA.
    Do u trust to have ur camera and laptop to be checked in. I guarantee u they will be stolen at US airports.
    This is another way of Muslim ban

  20. Reading these comments is exactly why credibility is important. Trump and his surrogates have chosen to constantly lie and now people don’t know if what he says or does is real or just another lie. His tirades about “fake news” and about Obama wire tapping him have been so over the top he has lost all credibility and everything he does will be looked at with suspicion. This will be the downfall of his presidency.

  21. There’s no question in my mind that this is harassment of the Middle East airlines. If there was a credible threat, then electronic devices should be banned on ALL airlines coming from anywhere. The whole thing reeks of the original Muslim Ban in its lack of clarity (what about the lithium battery danger? what about carry on when you are connecting through one of these airports?) and chaos it is going to cause.

  22. Mark is exactly right. I am not particularly political but this administration has nobody to blame but themselves for the lack of trust. They have played so fast and loose with facts my trust level in them is very low at this point, that combine with the fact that this seemingly aligns with their other policy imperatives is also not helping my trust. Essentially they are now reaping what the sowed. That said I will reserve final judgement until the official announcement is made today having recently flown from several of those countries in the last year I will say to my eyes their security appeared every bit as good as US/Europe/Asia. In fact in a couple of the locations I was subject to random secondary screening before boarding the plane which has never happened to me in the US.

  23. Of course there is specific intelligence on this threat. POTUS alluded to it in his most awesome speech to the joint session of Congress. Oh, and the UK and Canada have implemented the same ban.

    Leftist judges will be in a real bind if this one is struck down and al Qaeda takes down an airline.

    Make America Safe Again!

  24. @Pete… Hard to know what’s real and not real when it comes out of DJ Trump’s mouth. That’s what happens when people lie all the time. Words matter. I doubt any judge would stop a legitimate travel ban if there was actual facts to back it up. We have a document called the constitution. Maybe you’ve heard of it. There is a reason why the executive branch doesn’t control the judiciary. If you prefer that system I suggest you relocate to Russia where the president controls everything.

  25. One question here. At least when it was being carried on, we used to be asked to turn on laptop, etc to prove that it was safe. If the intel is that terrorists are now able to master technology that would enable rigged laptops/ devices pass through security at gates, why would it be any safer to have the same devices in the cabin hold where it might not have gone through additional due diligence that can happen at the gates?

  26. @Mark – the problem is that all of those “lies” are figments of the fervent minds of the lunatic left fringe. And you might think about a refresher on your high school civics lesson on the role of the judiciary – to interpret law, not make it.

  27. @Hadley – you’re too late in the game with your pesky facts. The looney lefties are off to the next Trump = Bad fake news story. Squirrel!!!


  28. @desperate Pete….President Donald Trump’s repeated lack of “respect for the truth” puts him in jeopardy of being viewed as “a fake President,” The Wall Street Journal editorial board says.

    I doubt the Rupert Murdoch owned Wall Street Journal is part of the “lunatic left fringe”. LOL. Have a nice flight in economy.

  29. Poor Mark, I feel for you. It is going to be a very long 8 years. But let me know when you are ready for that civics lesson – it might ease some of the pain of having DJT living in your head, free of rent.

  30. @Pete. It’s not about me it’s about the country. I’ll be just fine. You are correct and the role of the judiciary is to interpret laws and executive orders.
    It seems that Trump is now 0-2 for his poorly written unconstitutional executive order. I wouldn’t exactly call that a winning record. Maybe Putin can help him out and re-write it for him or Trump can call his personal law firm that was voted Russia’s best law firm for 2016. Приветствия!

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