Some electronics banned from cabin on US-bound flights from 8 countries

by: KIRO 7 News Staff Updated:

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The U.S. government is temporarily barring passengers on certain nonstop U.S.-bound flights from eight Middle Eastern and North African countries from bringing laptops, iPads, cameras and some other electronics in carry-on luggage starting Tuesday. The official did not name the airports or the countries.

A U.S. official told The Associated Press the ban will apply to nonstop flights to the U.S. from 10 international airports serving the cities of Cairo in Egypt; Amman in Jordan; Kuwait City in Kuwait; Casablanca in Morocco; Doha in Qatar; Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia; Istanbul in Turkey; and Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The ban was indefinite, said the official. 

A United States official told CBS News the prohibitions are based on information developed overseas about a threat that has to be taken seriously. The threat is non-specific, and it is based on intelligence gathered. 


Key developments: 

  • U.S. to ban electronics on U.S.-bound flights from 10 airports and 8 countries. 
  • At least one U.S. official shared information ahead of a public announcement on the condition of anonymity. 
  • The ban starts Tuesday. 
  • The Department of Homeland Security is in the process of notifying the countries and airlines. Airlines have 96 hours to implement the ban on large electronics.  
  • A U.S. government official said such a ban has been considered for several weeks.
  • The ban was first mentioned in statements from leading Middle East airline Royal Jordanian on Monday. The airline's statements on social media have since been deleted. 

Limited information from officials 

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly phoned lawmakers over the weekend to brief them on aviation security issues that have prompted the impending electronics ban, according a congressional aide briefed on the discussion. The aide was not authorized to speak publicly about the issue and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The DHS told KIRO 7 News, “We have no comment on potential security precautions, but will provide any update as appropriate.”

A U.S. government official said such a ban has been considered for several weeks. A public announcement on the ban could happen as early as Tuesday. 

According to CBS News, the Department of Homeland Security is in the process of notifying the countries and airlines. Airlines have 96 hours to implement the ban on large electronics. The DHS is unsure how long the ban will last. 

The ban would begin just before Wednesday's meeting of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group in Washington. A number of top Arab officials were expected to attend the State Department gathering. It was unclear whether their travel plans were related to any increased worry about security threats.

An airline tweeted about banning electronics, but since pulled down information 

The ban was revealed Monday in statements from Royal Jordanian Airlines, a leading airline in the Middle East. Royal Jordanian posted the notice to its verified Twitter and Facebook accounts, but it has since deleted the information. 

The airline later tweeted "updates will be announced soon."

 

 

Before deleting the statements, Air Jordanian said wrote cellphones and medical devices are excluded and that prohibited devices can be carried in checked baggage only.

The now-pulled statement said Royal Jordanian followed instructions from “concerned US departments.” 

Security expert's thoughts on the ban

Brian Jenkins, an aviation-security expert at the Rand Corp., said the nature of the security measure suggested that it was driven by intelligence of a possible attack.

Another aviation-security expert, Jeffrey Price, said there could be downsides to the policy.

"There would be a huge disadvantage to having everyone put their electronics in checked baggage," said Price, a professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He said thefts from baggage would skyrocket, as when Britain tried a similar ban in 2006, and some laptops have batteries that can catch fire — an event easier to detect in the cabin than the hold.

Most major airports in the United States have a computer tomography or CT scanner for checked baggage, which creates a detailed picture of a bag's contents. They can warn an operator of potentially dangerous material, and may provide better security than the X-ray machines used to screen passengers and their carry-on bags. All checked baggage must be screened for explosives.

The Associated Press contributed to this story