The latest restriction in the aviation industry - a ban from carrying on large electronic devices - has caused quite a stir. However, one thing is certain: this new regulation should not cause worry or stop you from flying. It's simply part of the rules of air travel now, just like the on-board liquid limitations. An inconvenience, yes, but not worth changing your travel plans.
Since you’re not going to let the ban deter you from traveling, read on to learn how it may affect your next international trip.
What exactly is banned?
The ban applies to bringing large electronics into the airplane cabin as carry-on items. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) defines “large electronics” as being bigger than a cell phone or smartphone. This includes:
- Portable DVD players
- Electronic games
However, DHS does note that “approved medical devices may be brought into the cabin after additional screening.” If you’re unsure whether your device is impacted, you should contact the airline prior to your trip.
Who does this ban apply to?
The official DHS response is that “this applies to all passengers traveling from 10 specific airports overseas.” That means both American citizens and foreign passport holders, “regardless of trusted traveler status,” says DHS.
Which airports are affected by the ban?
Any routes that are direct flights to the United States from one of the following airports are affected:
- Queen Alia International Airport (AMM) serving Amman, Jordan
- Cairo International Airport (CAI) serving Cairo, Egypt
- Istanbul Ataturk Airport (IST) serving Istanbul, Turkey
- King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED) serving Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
- King Khalid International Airport (RUH) serving Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
- Kuwait International Airport (KWI) serving Kuwait City, Kuwait
- Hamad International Airport (DOH) serving Doha, Qatar
- Mohammed V Airport (CMN) serving Casablanca, Morocco
- Dubai International Airport (DXB) serving Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) serving Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
What if I’m connecting through one of the above airports?
Based on DHS’s response, you will need to plan ahead and put your large electronics in your checked luggage at the beginning of your journey. Some airlines may provide gate-side checking of large electronics, but you should contact the airline beforehand to see if they offer that option.
How can I keep my checked electronics safe?
Bring only what you really need and plastic-wrap the luggage you plan to check. Some airports offer this service for a fee, or you can purchase cling wrap at a grocery store and wrap your luggage prior to leaving for the airport. If you’re going for the DIY option, apply packing tape to seal the wrapping or use a hairdryer to melt the plastic so it shrinks to fit your bag.
If you don’t wrap your bag or forget to pack a device, Emirates, among others, is offering to securely gate-check large electronics so that customers can use their devices until it’s time to board.
Do I have any other options if I need to do work or go online in-flight?
Now that the ban is in place, some airlines like Etihad and Qatar Airways are loaning tablets and laptops to their business and first-class customers for free.
How long does the ban last?
At the moment, the ban is indefinite, as there is no stated end date or specified reevaluation period.