We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Christoph Schmidt DPA/PA Images

'Just getting on with it': Laptop ban comes into force at Middle-East airports

Air carriers were offering a laptop stowage service as the ban comes into effect.

A CONTROVERSIAL BAN on carry-on laptops and tablets on flights from the Middle East to the United States and Britain went into effect today – with less fanfare and frustration than expected.

From Dubai to Doha, passengers on dozens of flights checked in their electronic devices, many shrugging off the measure as yet another inconvenience of global travel.

“It’s a rule. I follow the rules,” said Rakan Mohammed, a Qatari national who flies from Doha to the US two to three times a year.

“The bigger problem for my family is the no smoking. On a long flight, they become restless after three hours.”

At Dubai International, one of the world’s busiest hubs, flag carrier Emirates dispatched staff to guide passengers through one of the most intense travel weekends of the year.

Around 1.1 million people are expected to pass through as the city marks UAE spring break, Dubai Airports said.

An estimated 260,000 travellers were expected each day from Friday through Monday. Dubai International Airport expects 89 million passengers this year.

Staff in red suits could be seen at the airport today carrying signs explaining the electronics ban, ready to appease travellers with games and activities for children.

Government-owned Emirates, which operates 18 direct flights to the US daily, also began a service to enable passengers to use their electronic devices after check-in and until boarding.

Samuel Porter, who was travelling out of Dubai with his family, nonetheless decided to “avoid delays” at the airport by putting his laptop in the hold.

“The only issue is the kids. I have two kids and the iPad is always in their hands. Maybe they will watch a documentary and learn something useful this time”, he told AFP.

The United States this week announced a ban on all electronics larger than a standard smartphone on board direct flights out of eight countries across the Middle East.

US officials would not specify how long the ban will last, but Emirates told AFP that it had been instructed to enforce the measures until at least 14 October.

The ban covers electronics sold at Dubai Duty Free, Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths told local radio earlier this week.

Further disruption

Adding to the disruption today, a number of flights out of Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports were delayed due to thunderstorms, including an Emirates flight to Houston.

Travellers using 10 airports across the Middle East and North Africa are subject to the ban.

Britain has also announced a parallel electronics ban, effective today, targeting all flights out of Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Lebanon.

Royal Jordanian, which operates direct flights to London, New York, Detroit and Chicago, poked fun at the ban with a number of social media posts suggesting alternative in-flight activities, including doing “what we Jordanians do best… stare at each other!”

The bans have come under criticism for targeting majority-Muslim countries. The US ban in particular has raised eyebrows for covering airports from which US airlines do not operate direct flights.

But the United States and Britain have cited intelligence indicating passenger jets could be targeted with explosives planted in such devices.

Turkish airports began enforcing the ban today, with national carrier Turkish Airlines offering a similar laptop stowage service to Emirates.

Abu Dhabi, home to UAE national carrier Etihad Airways, is one of the few international airports with a US Customs and Border Protection Facility, which processes immigration and customs inspections before departure.

But those flying to the US from Abu Dhabi will still need to check in their electronics, Etihad said.

© – AFP, 2017

Read: Banning laptops on flights was prompted by ‘credible’ reports of potential IS attacks

Read: Now Canada’s considering a ban on large devices on Middle Eastern flights

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.