Laptops included in cabin baggage on various flights from specific counties are getting banned by the UK and US with the affected countries being Turkey and North and East Africa. The reason for the US ban on larger electronics than smartphones is a measure to curb terrorism.
The ban affects inbound flights of nine airlines that have access to 10 airports. The ban does not cover mobile phones. Hours after the US announcement on the ban, Britain followed suit with theirs being targeted towards different airlines. The British Ban indicated 14 airlines would be affected by the ban which will see them not carry laptops in the cabin luggage. The ban covered inbound direct flights from Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Tunisia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Turkish government criticized the ban saying that it was wrong and should get reversed.
However, the large electronics are allowed onboard in the checked baggage. Marc Garneau (Canadian Transport Minister) also said that the country was considering following the same path.
The UK ban affected EasyJet and British Airways among other airlines. The US ban affected Egypt Air, Turkish Airlines, Royal Jordanian, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, Emirates, Kuwait Airways, and Saudi Arabian Airlines. The US decision regarding the airlines was to be put into effect by Saturday 07:00 GMT with the end date being indefinite.
According to an Emirates spokeswoman, they already knew about the ban which would take effect on March 25th with the end date being October 14th, 2017.
Why the ban now?
Frank Gardener, the BBC security correspondent said the restrictions came as a result of ‘evaluated intelligence.’ This might mean that US Intelligence might have caught wind of a discussion of possible attacks.
The justification behind the ban
DHS in a statement cited plane and airport attacks that occurred in the last two years.
DHS stated bombs have been disguised in items such as soft drinks which saw in 2015 the crash of the Russian airliner over Egypt claiming 224 lives and also the failed attempt in Somali last year where a laptop was used. Terrorists in 2001 tried hiding explosives in shoes; in 2006 they tried using liquid explosives and in 2010 tried to conceal explosives in printers. Also, terrorists in 2009 and 2012 used suicide devices in underwear.
Evaluated intelligence shows extremists are targeting commercial aviation even more which even involves trying to smuggle explosive devices in different consumer items.
Will the ban have an impact?
Turkish Transport Minister (Ahmet Arslan) said in a statement to reporters that the ban would not help passengers in any way and that softer measures or a reversal of the ban were in order. The Aviation Security Magazine editor in chief, Philip Baum said if they couldn’t make a distinction in 2017 between a laptop that doesn’t have an IED from one that does, then their screening process isn’t entirely reliable.
UK’s independent newspaper travel editor Simon Calder was of the opinion that the British ban would have different impacts on travelers as it involved budget flights. He further stated that for America, it was easy to reach the decision as they didn’t have many flights like them and that this would see an increase in theft.
Has the Trump travel ban got anything to do with this?
Reuters quoted officials saying that the laptop ban on cabin luggage was not in any way related to the President’s ban of the six major Muslim nations.