Royal Jordanian airlines banned the use of electronics on flights servicing the US after government officials here expressed concerns. Details are scant, but CNN is reporting that other carriers based on the Middle East and Africa may be affected as well.
The news broke when Royal Jordanian, a state-owned airline that operates around 500 flights a week, posted this cryptic notice on its Twitter feed.
Attention all passengers pic.twitter.com/VjN58EbJkJ— Royal Jordanian (@RoyalJordanian) March 20, 2017
The ban, which includes laptops, tablets, and video games, but does not include smartphones or medical devices, is effective for Royal Jordanian flights servicing New York, Chicago, Detroit, and Montreal. A spokesperson for Royal Jordanian was not immediately available for clarification.
The Verge reached out to the Federal Aviation Administration for clarification, but was referred to the Department of Homeland Security. A spokesperson for DHS had only this to say: “We have no comment on potential security precautions, but will provide any update as appropriate.” Asked if Royal Jordanian is acting at the behest of DHS, the spokesperson said, “I’m not able to say anything more at this time.”
Meanwhile, CNN is reporting that Royal Jordanian may not be the only carrier affected by these new security provisions. Jon Ostrower, the network’s aviation editor, just tweeted that as many as 12 airlines based in the Middle East and Africa could be impacted.
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
A Saudi executive also tweeted that “directives by US authorities” could affect passengers traveling from 13 countries, with the new measure set to go into effect over the next 96 hours.
@thatjohn directives by US authorities with immediate effect (96 hours) for pax from 13 countries— عبدالرحمن الفهـد (@ahfahad) March 20, 2017
Some airlines have been known to ban the use of certain electronics during flights, like the explosion-prone Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and certain hoverboards. This could be the first electronics ban, though, targeting specific carriers based on nationality.
In January, the Trump administration created chaos at the nation’s airports when it issued a travel ban directed at seven Muslim-majority nations. The ban was blocked by a federal court, leading the president to issue a second, more watered-down version of the ban. That executive order has also been blocked.
We will update this story when we have more information.