In response to fresh but unspecified security threats, Reuters reports that the U.S. authorities have issued multiple notices to airlines, mainly from the Middle East and Africa, to forbid their passengers from carrying laptops or electronic devices on flights in or out of the U.S. The Guardian reports that the electronics ban covers laptops, iPads, cameras and other devices and was issued via a “confidential” email from the TSA on Monday.
The list of the airlines is unconfirmed, but it does include both Saudi Arabia’s Saudia Airlines and Royal Jordanian Airlines. The ban is due to go into effect on Tuesday, and the Guardian speculates that it covers over 13 countries, although the number hasn’t been confirmed publicly by the Department of Homeland Security.
BREAKING: 12+ Middle East and African airlines flying to U.S. covered new security procedures. -U.S. Official. Few additional details.
— Jon Ostrower (@jonostrower) March 20, 2017
The bizarre ban’s news first broke via a tweet, which has now been deleted, from Royal Jordanian Airlines Monday.
“Following instructions from concerned U.S. departments, carrying any electronic or electrical device on board the flight cabins is strictly prohibited,” the airline’s statement said.
The statement states that they can carry cellphones and medical devices, but everything else must go into the checked luggage, meaning you can no longer use the devices to keep you entertained on a long international flight.
A media spokesman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued “no comment on potential security precautions,” but more news is expected to come out today.
you will lose a lot of potential passengers
— Dan Sam (@Dan_Sam1) March 20, 2017
— Matt Soleyn (@MattSoleyn) March 20, 2017
As expected, people are responding to the news with frustration and confusion. Many threatened to take their business elsewhere if the airlines complied with the ban, while one person asked if they could still wear their watches on the plane.
@RoyalJordanian can you provide further details? Why is this happening?
— Jason Rabinowitz (@AirlineFlyer) March 20, 2017
Watch this space for further developments.