Earlier we learned that a ban on electronics
owned by Muslims was about to go into effect on flights to the U.S.
- It was first revealed in a tweet by Royal Jordanian
- It was confirmed by Saudi Arabia
- Reports differed on whether 8 to 13 airlines or airports would be affected
- It would not affect the flights of any US airline
- It was unclear whether it would go into effect in 96 hours or last for 96 hours but was reportedly temporary
- It was unclear whether it would involve flights departing the U.S. also to affected cities, although I didn’t think so.
Now the Associated Press is reporting that the ban involves 9 airlines and 10 cities and is ‘indefinite’. It starts Tuesday. The US government is expected to confirm this in the morning.
The airlines and cities involved:
- Cairo (EgyptAir)
- Amman (Royal Jordanian)
- Kuwait City (Kuwait Airways)
- Doha (Qatar)
- Riyadh (Saudia)
- Jeddah (Saudia)
- Istanbul (Turkish)
- Abu Dhabi (Etihad)
- Dubai (Emirates)
I guessed each of these in my original post.
The inclusion of Abu Dhabi, where the U.S. has a preclearance facility and separate security screening prior to departure is interesting. The requirement that all electronics besides mobile phones be checked in luggage, when lithium ion batteries are normally not allowed in checked luggage due to fire risk suggests a belief that there’s a specific threat of greater danger (whether or not this assessment is true).
Thefts from checked baggage can be expected to “skyrocket, as when Britain tried a similar ban in 2006” and of course anyone whose plot really relies on bringing electronics — which I’ve regularly had to turn on for security staff in Abu Dhabi — inside the cabin can just be brought to other intermediate countries prior to flying to the U.S.
No visa is required, for instance, for a UAE citizen to transit Amsterdam or Paris enroute to the U.S. So unless there’s the expectation that security screeners themselves in these specific countries are themselves part of a plot (including those working US preclearance) but that screeners in European countries are likely to spot whatever is inside larger electronics then the ban is obviously for naught.
This is a huge gift to US airlines not serving these countries, because it encourages connections rather than flying non-stop for anyone unwilling to check their laptop. A checked laptop might go missing or become damaged, or might be searched unbeknownst to the passenger. And flights will be less productive for business travelers who might otherwise take advantage of inflight internet and keep up with work during their long haul trips. Travelers from India and Pakistan, who frequently travel via Gulf states, can transit Europe though transit without visa rules are strict.