According to numerous reports, U.S. authorities today alerted a number of Middle Eastern and African airlines that starting soon, their passengers will have to check any electronic items larger than a cell phone. That means passengers on these flights will have to put their laptops, tablets, Kindles and portable game consoles into their checked baggage for the foreseeable future.
There is still a lot of confusion around this ban. It’s unclear which countries and airlines are actually affected by this, for example. CNN’s Jon Ostrower reports that more than a dozen airlines are affected by these new procedures, but it’s unclear which airlines we’re actually talking about.
So far, only Royal Jordanian Airlines has tweeted about (and subsequently deleted its message). None of the larger Middle Eastern airlines like Emirates have yet commented on this laptop ban. We have contacted a number of airlines that are potentially affected by this but have not received any responses yet. The Qatar Airways booking agent I talked to was clearly unaware of any potential electronics ban on her airline, for example.
Update: Saudia has now also confirmed this ban on large electronic devices.
We also contacted the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which referred us to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Here is the DHS statement we received: “We have no comment on potential security precautions, but will provide an update when appropriate.”