UAE, Qatar passengers affected by US ban on laptops, tablets in cabin hold

Passengers in the UAE are also affected by the new US ban whereby laptops, tablets and other electronic devices will be banned in cabin hold.

In a statement to Emirates 24|7, Dubai-based Emirates has confirmed passengers will have to comply with the new rules.

The full statement reads: “Emirates can confirm that as per the new security directive issued by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), electronic devices larger than a cell phone/smart phone, excluding medical devices, cannot be carried in the cabin of the aircraft.

"The directive comes into  effect on 25 March 2017 and is valid until 14 October 2017. It is applicable to all US-bound passengers from Dubai International Airport, whether originating or transiting through.

"Emirates requests that all passengers travelling to the US pack all electronic devices larger than a cell phone/smart phone in their checked-in baggage.”

Earlier on Tuesday, the US warned that extremists plan to target passenger jets with bombs hidden in electronic devices, and banned carrying them onto flights from 10 Middle East airports.

Senior US officials told reporters that nine airlines from eight countries had been given 96 hours, beginning at 7am GMT, to ban devices bigger than a cellphone or smartphone from the cabin.

Laptops, tablets and portable game consoles are affected by the ban - which applies to direct flights to the US - but they may still be stowed in the hold in checked baggage.

Qatar Airways has also confirmed the ban affects passengers aboard its US-bound flights.

In a statement on its website, the Doha-based carrier posted: "Effective 21 March in accordance with new United States government regulations, all passengers travelling on United States-bound flights are prohibited from carrying any electronic devices on board the flight other than cellular and smart phones and medical devices needed during the flight.
 
'Qatar Airways has made special arrangements to assist passengers in securing their devices in the aircraft's baggage hold. Prohibited devices, including laptops, tablets, DVD players and electronic games must be carried in checked luggage only."

Passengers on approximately 50 flights per day from some of the busiest hubs in the Middle East, Turkey and North Africa will be obliged to follow the new emergency ruling.   

"The restrictions are in place due to evaluated intelligence and we think it's the right thing to do and the right places to do it to secure the safety of the traveling public," one US official said.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, refused to discuss the "intelligence information" that led the Transportation Security Administration to issue the order.

But one said that concerns had been "heightened by several successful events and attacks on passenger lanes and airports over the last years."

No end date

The official would not go into detail about which attacks had raised fears, but did cite an incident from February of last year in which suspected Somali Islamists blew a hole in the side of Daallo Airlines passenger jet with a small device. Only the bomber was killed and the plane landed safely.

CNN quoted a US official as saying the ban was believed to be related to a threat posed by Al Qaeda.

"Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation and are aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items," an official said.

The airports touched by the ban are Queen Alia International in Amman, Jordan; Cairo International in Egypt; Ataturk in Istanbul, Turkey; King Abdulaziz International in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; King Khalid International in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Kuwait International; Mohammed V International in Casablanca, Morocco; Hamad International in Doha, Qatar; and the Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports in the UAE.

Statements from the UAE carriers are yet awaited.

No US carriers make direct flights from these airports, so they are unaffected by the ban, which will hit Royal Jordanian, EgyptAir, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways.

The airlines and their host governments have already been informed of the order by US officials, and some of them have begun informing passengers about the restriction.

Airlines will be responsible for policing the cabin ban, and if they fail to do so could lose their rights to operate US routes.

No end date has been put on the order, and officials would not say whether the restriction might spread to other airports.

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