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US Ends Laptop Ban For US Bound Flights

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Controversial ban preventing Middle Eastern passengers carrying their laptops on flights to the US officially ends

The United States has ended a four-month ban on passengers from certain Middle Eastern and North African countries, from taking their devices onto flights to America.

Under the leadership of the Trump administration, the US in March had banned the carrying of laptops in aircraft cabins on flights from eight predominately Muslim nations, due to security concerns.

However the US had stopped short of banning laptops on all flights to America, much to the relief of passengers from European countries travelling to the US.

using laptopUS Ban

The US ban on laptops from certain countries had stemmed from previous concerns over bombs being carried in laptops.

That concern had required people to turn on their laptops if requested by airport personnel, in order to prove the battery pack had not been replaced with explosives.

But the US decision to end the laptop ban altogether came after officials from the US department of homeland security (DHS) confirmed in a Tweet that King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) was the last of 10 airports to have the ban lifted.

The DHS also lifted the ban on nine airlines including Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Royal Jordanian, Kuwait Airways, EgyptAir and Royal Air Maroc.

Those were apparently the only airlines to fly direct flights to the United States. DHS officials had apparently visited 10 airports in Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey to confirm new security measures were being implemented, before they decided to lift the ban.

These new security measures include enhanced passenger screening at foreign airports, increased security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas, and more checks by sniffer dogs.

And airlines that fail to comply could face electronics restrictions.

However it should be noted that a travel ban on citizens from six Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen – remains in place. Although this ban is currently hampered because of various court proceedings in the US.

UK To Follow?

Meanwhile it worth noting that the United Kingdom continues its ban on in-cabin electronics on flights from a number of Middle Eastern airports including Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

That said, there are reports in the Turkish media that British authorities will soon lift the ban on flights from Turkey.

Carrying electronics on airlines has become a touchy subject in recent times.

Travel safety experts for example have long argued that rules that forced laptops to be placed in plane holds could cause its own safety issues, since lithium battery fires would be difficult to extinguish there.

Earlier this year United Airlines and Delta Airlines both banned the bulk shipping of lithium-ion batteries over safety concerns.

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