Passengers flying from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tunisia to the UK have been banned from taking their laptops and other large electronic devices into the cabin. Instead they will have to check in these devices so they are stowed in the baggage hold. The ban applies to any electric devices larger than 16cm by 9.3cm by 1.5cm (6.3in by 3.6in by 0.6in) and includes iPads, oversized smartphones, DVD players, Kindles and small games consoles.
When does it start?
No official start date for the ban has been set as airlines will need time to implement the changes. But the Department for Transport says anyone flying from one of these locations must be prepared for it to be enforced immediately.
Does it just apply to direct flights?
No, it also applies to transfer flights. In other words, those travelling into the UK via one of the banned countries – and those travelling from a banned country via the UK to another destination. flights to UK
Why is this happening? flights to UK
The decision follows a similar ban by Donald Trump’s administration. The US ban – which comes into force from Saturday afternoon – applies to ten airports in eight countries, also including Qatar and Kuwait. The US said it was concerned about recent attempts by terrorist groups to circumvent airport security and detonate bombs on planes – including the downing of a plane in Egypt in 2015 – and the armed attacks against airports in Brussels and Istanbul last year. US officials cited the failed attempt to down a plane in Somalia last year when a laptop containing a bomb was passed to a passenger after they had gone through security.
Why these countries? flights to UK
Those included in the UK ban – all of which have large Muslim populations – are deemed to pose a high terrorist threat. The Government refused to explain why it did not follow the US example and extend the ban to Kuwait and Qatar.
Why is it safer to stow a laptop in the hold? flights to UK
Security sources say that if a bomb is taken into the cabin, it takes only a minor explosion to blow out a window and bring the plane down. An explosion in the luggage hold is likely to be less catastrophic. It is also much harder for a terrorist to detonate the bomb if it is in the hold. At most airports passengers are told to take out their laptops and electronic devices from hand luggage when they go through security. But terrorists have still found ways to smuggle laptops containing explosive devices through security, without being detected by X-ray scanners.
How many flights are affected? flights to UK
The Department for Transport said it could not disclose this for security reasons. But it is thought fewer than 200 flights a day travel from these six countries to the UK. Six UK airlines – British Airways, EasyJet, Jet2.com, Monarch, Thomas Cook and Thomson – will be affected, and eight overseas airlines: Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airways, Atlas-Global Airlines, Middle East Airlines, Egyptair, Royal Jordanian, Tunis Air and Saudia.
How will the ban work? flights to UK
This is where it becomes more sketchy. The Department for Transport has left it up to the airlines. Government officials have advised passengers who plan to travel to the UK from these countries to check with their airline, and to check the size of their devices. Travellers using check-in desks will be advised whether they need to stow their devices in the hold. Airlines are likely to arm staff with perspex letterbox-style tools to ensure devices do not exceed the size limit. There will also need to be secondary checks at the departure gate for passengers who checked in online. This is where the ban is likely to cause the most trouble – because these passengers will have only hand luggage and will be told they cannot take large devices on board.
What if my electronic device is too big? flights to UK
This again depends on the airlines, but they appear to have been caught off-guard. BA last night said its flights would continue to operate as normal but urged passengers to check-in in good time and monitor its website for updates.
Should I cancel my flights to these countries?
No. The Department for Transport says it is not advising against flying to these countries. But it has urged those with imminent travel plans to contact their airline for more information.
flights to UK – How long will the ban last?
No timeframe has been given. But – as with the US – the ban is unlikely to be lifted until the threat recedes.
Will I have to pay extra to check a bag in?
Passengers could face extra costs if they want to take these types of devices away with them. Many travellers hoping to save money by choosing hand luggage-only fares now face extra baggage fees.
Will my gadgets still be insured?
Passengers should contact their insurer before putting expensive devices in checked baggage.
flights to UK