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In a sudden move, Britain has banned larger devices on flights from six countries in the Middle East. This ban comes on the heels of the United States’ ban on large electronics on incoming flights from 10 specific Middle East airports.

British Intelligence defends the move on security grounds. One potential threat cited (by a U.S. official, mind you) is a technique to use the battery compartment of an electronic device to hide explosives. The U.S. and the UK have been in communication with each other on the recent decisions to implement these electronics bans.

How and where does the UK electronics ban apply?

The UK ban is different than the U.S. electronics ban in some ways. Instead of a specific airports, the UK ban covers all flights from the countries of Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. Unlike the U.S. ban, the UK ban does NOT include flights from the biggest Middle East hubs, such as Dubai and Doha.

The ban only applies to larger electronics. Devices measuring less than 16cm in length, 9.3cm in width, and 1.5cm depth (6.3 x 3.6 x 0.6 inches) will still be allowed in the cabin. This means you can still bring pretty much any smartphone. Anything larger must be placed into hold luggage and checked-in before going through security.

The UK ban is effective immediately, and applies to a total of 15 airlines that fly to the UK from these 6 countries.

Impacts to travelers

A move like this is obviously frustrating to travelers. I use my laptop on nearly every flight I take, and especially on long flights. Not having it available would definitely hamper my productivity.

However, if a measure like this can prevent incidents like the one on the flight leaving Mogadishu last year, then it may be for the best. However, there are still literally hundreds of other flights entering the UK from  other locations every day. Banning a select set of countries doesn’t seem like an effective choice, unless there is a direct, immediate threat.

We’ll have to let the security experts and airlines sort this issue out. I expect it to be aggravating more than anything.

Featured image from Wikimedia under CC 3.0 license

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