US bans iPads and laptops onboard flights from Qatar
Updated with Qatar Airways statement
Passengers flying non-stop to the US from Doha are now prohibited from using iPads, Kindles and most other electronic items during their journeys.
The US Department of Homeland Security has announced a ban on such items in the cabin of aircraft coming from 10 cities, including Doha.
Officials said the move was in response to concerns about terrorist attacks.
In a statement released today, DHS cited intelligence suggesting that terrorist groups “continued to target commercial aviation and are aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items.”
The agency added that the ban would only affect a “small percentage of flights” to the US and that no flight departing from the states would be affected.
The ban is effective immediately, though airlines have 96 hours to comply with the requirements.
Electronic items larger than a cell phone will not be accepted on board flights, including laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, electronic game units larger than a smartphone and travel printers/scanners.
Passengers would instead have to store such devices in their checked luggage. Medical equipment is exempted.
The ban is in place indefinitely.
Direct flights to the USA
The 10 affected cities are all from the Middle East.
They are Doha, Cairo, Amman, Kuwait City, Casablanca, Riyadh, Jeddah, Istanbul, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
It will affect flights on nine different airlines, including Qatar Airways, Emirates, Etihad and Saudi Arabia.
Royal Jordanian actually tweeted passengers about the ban yesterday, but then deleted the post, saying a further update was coming soon.
Qatar Airways, which flies directly from Doha to 10 US cities, has issued a travel alert to passengers about the ban.
In a statement on its website, it said that it had made “special arrangements” to assist passengers in securing their devices in the aircraft’s baggage hold.
It did not elaborate on what these arrangements are.
How it will affect passengers
But the ban means all Qatar Airways passengers flying to the US – whether they are beginning their journey in Doha or starting it elsewhere and switching planes at Hamad International – will have to place larger electronic items in their checked-in baggage.
This includes iPads, laptops, gaming devices and cameras.
The move is likely to cause considerable confusion for passengers boarding Qatar Airways flights in other countries, and frustration for customers who had hoped to use their devices to work or for entertainment during their flights.
Passengers flying from Doha to the US via airports not affected by the ban, such as London, Amsterdam or Frankfurt, will still be able to keep their electronics with them onboard.
It is still unclear whether flight crew from the region – who use company-provided iPads as part of their jobs – will be allowed to bring them into the US.
Many passengers flying on Qatar Airways and other regional carriers are likely to be reluctant to place valuable electronic items in the hold, due to fears about damage or theft.
Some have expressed these concerns on Twitter:
And others have pointed out that the new ban seems to unfairly target major aviation hubs in the Muslim world:
Would the ban affect you? Thoughts?