If you're travelling to the United States on a flight with a transfer in the UAE, Qatar or Kuwait, remember to pack a few paperback novels for the long haul. The US Department of Homeland Security confirmed last night that electronic devices are banned on-board all flights in-bound to the US from certain Middle Eastern countries. Within hours, United Kingdom followed suit.
The ban is on devices larger than a smart phone, and includes Kindle devices, tablets, iPads, laptops, cameras and electronic games.
It applies on flights from cities such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Istanbul, Doha, Cairo, Amman, Casablanca, Riyadh, Jeddah, and Kuwait City. In turn, this affects flights such as Emirates, Etihad Airways, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Qatar Airways and other national carriers from these regions.
People are not happy with the new travel ban. Among their chief concerns, they wondered how they could work over long flights, and how they would keep their children entertained.
Electronics keep the kids at ease on a long flight....imagine a flight full of cranky kids 😂...#electronicsban— Soumya (@smb2001) March 21, 2017
At first, it was Royal Jordanian that tweeted about the ban, but soon deleted the tweet.
The ban was reportedly imposed because of “a new aviation threat”, or terrorism.
On Twitter, frequent travellers objected against the decision, tweeting with #ElectronicsBan. Besides having their only personal source of entertainment snatched away, they were also concerned if baggage handlers would deal with their luggage carefully. Fears of theft and lost luggage also came up.
The first time I will be flying via Dubai and now have to decide whether to risk checking in my laptop. #electronicsban— Aisha Khan (@aishak3) March 21, 2017
Addendum to the US flight electronics ban: passengers are banned from carrying books with complex narrative structure and layered allegories— Karl Sharro (@KarlreMarks) March 21, 2017
Some speculated that this was intended as an extension to the previous travel ban issued by US President Donald Trump. But others believe it was more about the competition between American and Middle Eastern carriers.
About 50 direct flights ply from the mentioned cities to the US daily. If people chose to fly the 14-hour-long flights with alternative carriers, with transfers in Europe as opposed to Middle East, that could take away most of the competition from flights like Emirates and Etihad Airways.
There is plenty of irony in the ban, as these Twitterers point out:
You can't take a laptop on a flight to the US but the US is free to fly jets full of bombs into the Middle East. That's balance for you.— Karl Sharro (@KarlreMarks) March 21, 2017
Some Twitterers noted the hidden safety hazard in packing battery-operated devices into checked-in luggage. Besides that, many talked about how it was an ineffective move, aimed at causing more inconvenience to flyers.
Besides the old-school pen-and-book to keep themselves occupied, some people devised ways to work around the ban: by carrying pocket-sized portable keyboards that you can pair up with phones. Or, there's always in-flight entertainment with its list of select films (although that's a miss on budget airlines that run on basic amenities).
Tell me, what is the point of X-ray scanners in airports if they cant detect a bomb pretending to be a DvD player? 🤔🤔🤔 #electronicsban— Jack Brooks (@jackbrooks248) March 21, 2017