Laptops and tablets are the latest gadgets to fall foul of US security and terrorism led flight restrictions. What’s the latest news, how might it affect your journey, and how does it impact on UK air travellers?
Flying soon? About the laptop ban
In late March 2017, the USA and UK announced a laptop and tablet ban on aeroplanes, a ban affecting people boarding direct flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. Now the USA is hinting that it might extend the ban to cover flights coming between British airports and the USA. It isn’t yet confirmed – that will have to come from the US Homeland Security organisation. Until that happens, the original restrictions will remain. Here’s what you need to know.
What routes and airlines are affected?
The USA’s flight ban currently covers a host of popular airports, banning laptops and tablets on flights direct from Cairo, Istanbul, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Doha, Casablanca, Amman, Riyadh and Jeddah airports. The British ban covers every flight incoming from Turkey, the Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.
Six home-grown British airlines are affected, namely BA, easyJet, Jet2.com, Monarch, Thomas Cook and Thomson. And several overseas airlines are also affected: Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airways, Atlas-Global, Middle East Airlines, Egyptair, Royal Jordanian, Tunis Air and Saudia.
What are you not allowed to take on board?
Confusingly, in the UK the ban means you have to measure your gadgets. Any ‘electronic device’ larger than 16cm x 9.3cm x 1.5cm isn’t allowed in your hand luggage. This means mobiles and even larger style smartphones are still OK.
In the US the ban covers more gadgets, and the banned list could soon include even more. Right now it covers laptops and tablets, e-readers like the Kindle, cameras, portable DVD players, any gaming console bigger than a smartphone, plus portable scanners and printers.
How about connecting flights?
The current ban affects you from your ‘last point of departure’. If the airport you left from is on the banned list, you’ll have to comply, leaving your gadgets at home or taking them in your main luggage. If you’re planning to catch a connecting flight from one of the airports affected to Britain, you can’t take your laptop or tablet on the plane in your hand luggage or on your person. What can be done to stay on the safe side? If you’re transferring through one of these at-risk airports, move your gadgets to your main luggage at the first airport, the one your journey originates from.
Does the ban affect my travel insurance?
Yes, if your insurer is one of the many who won’t cover the theft of or damage to valuables that are not on your person, close to you or visible to you. If your gadgets have to go in your main luggage in the hold of the plane, they’re likely not to be covered.
Some insurance providers might be flexible. It’s best to ask yours and find out for sure. On the other hand, if your gadgets are stashed safely in your main luggage, as long as nobody steals your luggage from the carousel, or your case goes missing, it should be fine. If in doubt, leave your gadgets at home and read a good, old-fashioned book on your flight instead!
Check the fine details with your airline
To be completely certain what the UK’s biggest airlines are allowing and banning, from liquids to laptops, check with your airline before you fly.