The UK just issued a ban on passengers using most electronic devices on flights from some Middle Eastern countries, according to Sky News. The news follows a similar restriction on the use of gadgets on flights from Muslim-majority countries into the US announced by the US Department of Homeland Security this morning.
The details of the UK ban are still unknown, but if it’s anything like the US restriction, it will cover all electronic devices bigger than a smartphone. That includes laptops, tablets, gaming devices, e-readers, and portable DVD players. Smartphones and medical devices are exempt under the US ban.
The US order, which is set to go into effect later this week, will impact nine airlines in eight countries across 10 airports. The list of countries includes Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. The list of airlines affected includes Royal Jordanian, Egypt Air, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates, and Etihad Airways.
Whether the US and the UK are responding to a specific threat is still unclear. Security sources told The Telegraph that UK security services “have seen the same intelligence as their US counterparts,” which is apparently being used to formulate that country’s security order. And Sky News is reporting that the order is in response to “the general threat from terrorism” and not a specific attack or possible attack.
Several airlines affected by the ban issued statements indicating their intention to comply. “Safety and security remain the highest priority for Etihad Airways and we will continue to assist passengers in complying with this directive,” a spokesperson for that airline told The Verge. Likewise, Emirates issued a notice requiring all US-bound passengers to pack all electronic devices larger than a smartphone in their checked baggage.