Laptop and gadget ban on flights from the Middle East to Britain and America begins amid fears of ISIS plot to down … – Daily Mail
A controversial ban on carry-on laptops and tablets on flights from the Middle East to the United States and Britain has gone into into effect.
Passengers were told to stash their electronics on direct flights to the UK from Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
They described the ban as a ‘hassle’ and claimed boarding was a ‘massive, slow process’ as airport employees were checking all carry-on luggage.
Laptops, iPads, Kindles and game consoles have been outlawed from hand luggage on services into Britain from those six countries amid fears terrorists have perfected a new type of airline bomb.
A controversial ban on carry-on laptops and tablets on flights from the Middle East to the United States and Britain has gone into into effect
Passengers checked in their electronic devices on dozens of flights from Dubai to Doha on Saturday
‘It’s a hassle and difficult for the airport employees. It took much longer than usual to board,’ said passenger Conor McCormick, flying from Istanbul.
‘Boarding the plane from the gate has become a massive, slow process. All carry-on luggage is checked and laptops are wrapped and stored.
‘The amount of airport employees required for this whole process is way more than what would be needed if there was no laptop ban.’
At Dubai International, one of the world’s busiest hubs, Emirates dispatched staff to guide passengers through one of the most intense travel weekends of the year.
Around 1.1 million people are expected to pass through as the city marks UAE spring break, Dubai Airports said.
Staff in red suits could be seen at the airport Saturday carrying signs explaining the electronics ban, ready to appease travellers with games and activities for children.
An estimated 260,000 travellers were expected each day from Friday through Monday. Dubai International Airport expects 89 million passengers this year.
‘It’s a rule. I follow the rules,’ said Rakan Mohammed, a Qatari national who flies from Doha to the US two to three times a year.
‘The bigger problem for my family is the no smoking. On a long flight, they become restless after three hours.’
The ban of carry-on electronics on flights was reportedly prompted by intelligence gathered about an ISIS plot to target the West. Above, the airports and countries targeted by the new American and British policies
New ban: The ban on laptops from inside UK-bound flights from six countries follows fears terrorists may have perfected a bomb like the one that blew a hole in this Somalian plane last year (pictured)
Upset: Passengers are being forced to put electronics in the hold of planes but will not be protected if they are damaged
In the dark: Passengers are turning up to flights not knowing if the ban applies, and this customer travelling back to the UK with BA from Turkey was not stopped
Government-owned Emirates, which operates 18 direct flights to the US daily, also began a service to enable passengers to use their electronic devices after check-in and until boarding.
Samuel Porter, who was travelling out of Dubai with his family, nonetheless decided to ‘avoid delays’ at the airport by putting his laptop in the hold.
‘The only issue is the kids. I have two kids and the iPad is always in their hands. Maybe they will watch a documentary and learn something useful this time’, he said.
Experts have called the ban ‘pointless’ because they believe terrorists could still bring down a plane using a bomb in the luggage hold or they could just try to fly from an unaffected country.
Shashank Joshi, senior research fellow at security think-tank the Royal United Services Institute, said: ‘This risks being seen as a form of pointless ‘security theatre’ which causes great disruption with little benefit to aviation security.’
The United States this week announced a ban on all electronics larger than a standard smartphone on board direct flights out of eight countries across the Middle East.
Laptop ban: The countries and airlines caught up in chaos
Under the new arrangements, phones, laptops and tablets will be banned from hand luggage from these countries on flights to the UK:
Passengers travelling to Britain from these countries cannot carry large electronic items in the cabin on these UK airlines:
And non-UK carriers:
Middle East Airlines
US officials would not specify how long the ban will last, but Emirates said that it had been instructed to enforce the measures until at least October 14.
The ban covers electronics sold at Dubai Duty Free, Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths told local radio earlier this week.
Adding to the disruption on Saturday, a number of flights out of Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports were delayed due to thunderstorms, including an Emirates flight to Houston.
Travellers using 10 airports across the Middle East and North Africa are subject to the ban.
Britain has also announced a parallel electronics ban, effective Saturday, targeting all flights out of Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Lebanon.
Royal Jordanian, which operates direct flights to London, New York, Detroit and Chicago, poked fun at the ban with a number of social media posts suggesting alternative in-flight activities, including doing ‘what we Jordanians do best… stare at each other!’
The bans have come under criticism for targeting majority-Muslim countries. The US ban in particular has raised eyebrows for covering airports from which US airlines do not operate direct flights.
But the United States and Britain have cited intelligence indicating passenger jets could be targeted with explosives planted in such devices.
In February last year a bomb concealed in a laptop was used to blow a hole in the side of an aircraft after it took off from Mogadishu airport in Somalia, east Africa.
The US is said to have picked up further intelligence about the bomb-making capabilities of Islamist terrorists following a raid by US Navy Seals in January on a stronghold of the group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular in Yemen.
Turkish airports began enforcing the ban Saturday, with national carrier Turkish Airlines offering a similar laptop stowage service to Emirates.
Abu Dhabi, home to UAE national carrier Etihad Airways, is one of the few international airports with a US Customs and Border Protection Facility, which processes immigration and customs inspections before departure.
But those flying to the US from Abu Dhabi will still need to check in their electronics, Etihad said.