US Considering Electronics Ban Across EU

Passengers in outbound flights from Europe heading to the US may face an ‘electronic challenge’ in the near future

Per a US government regulation that came into effect in March of this year, all electronic devices barring personally used medical equipment, cellular phones and power banks or lithium batteries that are bigger than 16 cm x 9.3 cm x 1.5 cm should be checked into the check –in baggage. Intense speculation suggests that this ban may be extended to some, if not all outbound flights from Europe heading into the US. So far, this ban covered nine carriers and ten Middle Eastern and African airports. Soon after the US issued this regulation, UK followed suit and Australia is considering a similar implementation.

If the electronics ban goes into effect across Europe, travelers will need to find alternate ways to deal with their dependence on these electronic devices. Business travelers especially those who travel light and rarely have checked-in baggage will have to work around this regulation. They could consider taking their vital business documents on USBs instead of in the laptops. Also, ensure that all disks that are checked in are encrypted. For others, for whom electronic devices acted like entertainment on long flights across the globe, airlines like Emirates and Qatar Airways offer loaner devices in-flight that help mitigate the stress for passengers affected by this ban. Qatar Airways also provides boxes to gate-check these large devices, should a passenger forget to check it in earlier.

This electronics ban currently in effect is for airports in Cairo, Istanbul, Kuwait City, Doha, Qatar, Casablanca, Morocco, Amman, Jordan, Riyadh and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in UAE. Implemented as a precaution because the US government was concerned about terrorists’ growing capabilities to target commercial aviation and leverage these devices to conceal explosives for an attack.

As the US government mulls over casting a wider net of this ban across Europe because they believe that broader vulnerabilities exist, they are postponing it for now for they have some more confidence in detection machines and security screeners at these airports compared to the ones in the Gulf and African nations. However, with recent attacks in the UK on the rise and as the threat levels warrant it, an electronics ban doesn’t seem too far in the future for flights departing European countries.

In the meantime, travelers, particularly business travelers can opt for other routes in light of the carry-on electronics ban, and explore the following airlines that still connect the East with the West –

  • Air India
  • Jet Airways
  • Singapore Airlines and
  • All Nippon Airways
  • Eva Air