Will it affect you?
Electronic devices such as laptops, tablets (e.g. iPads), cameras, and e-readers (Kindle, etc.) cannot be taken into the aircraft cabin on flights to the UK that depart from Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, and Tunisia.
A similar ban has been implemented by the USA, for flights departing from ten airports.
If you are flying to the UK or USA from any of the affected countries or airports, you must ensure that any devices larger than a standard mobile phone are packed in your checked baggage.
Please note that UK regulations and affected routes differ slightly from those implemented by the USA – if you’re unsure about your flight, check with your airline or tour operator.
News sources have reported that the new regulations have already been breached in Istanbul.
The Independent confirmed: “After clearing six separate security hurdles at Istanbul airport, passengers bound for London Heathrow mingled in the gate area with newly arrived travellers who had faced no extra checks.”
Why has the ban been introduced?
UK and US intelligence organisations are concerned about potential aircraft bombings. According to a BBC report, it seems terrorist groups may now be able to design bombs using larger electronic items such as laptops and tablets.
Turkey’s aviation industry, for example, is already a well-known target for terrorism – as listed in the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice.
Which airports are involved?
Direct flights to any airport in the UK from any airport in:
- Saudi Arabia
If you’re travelling to any airport in the USA, flights from specific airports are affected:
- Mohammed V International, Casablanca, Morocco
- Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
- Cairo International Airport, Egypt
- Queen Alia International, Amman, Jordan
- King Abdulaziz International, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
- King Khalid International, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
- Kuwait International Airport
- Hamad International, Doha, Qatar
- Abu Dhabi International, United Arab Emirates
- Dubai International, United Arab Emirates
Travelling to the USA via these airports may also be affected, e.g. if you fly from India to Dubai and then change planes to fly from Dubai to the USA.
What is allowed, exactly?
For flights to the UK from countries listed above:
Any device larger than
length – 16cm (6.2 inches)
width – 9.3cm (3.6 inches)
depth – 1.5cm (0.59 iches)
must be packed in your checked baggage.
This includes (but is not limited to) tablets, e-readers, portable DVD players, laptops, cameras, and gaming consoles.
Standard-sized mobile phones should be ok, but if you have a larger mobile, you should check the measurements just in case.
The USA regulations do not specify measurements but examples of items not allowed in the cabin include laptops, portable media players and game systems. Basically, anything larger than a standard mobile phone must be checked in.
Is this covered by my travel insurance?
Laptops and other electronics in checked luggage are often not covered by travel insurance.
- Most policies will not cover damage to items in checked luggage at all
- Policies may cover loss or theft, but the single item limit could be a lot lower than the value of a laptop or iPad (£1000+)
- Your home contents insurance may cover these items on an “all risk” basis but this can exclude portable electronics, so check your policy wording carefully and speak to your broker if you’re unsure.
- You may be able to claim damage to items in luggage from the airline, but with the new regulations this could be tied up in red tape and claim backlogs for months, or even years!
Your best bet is to find specialist gadget insurance for these items so that they are specifically covered for their correct values.
What else should you do?
If you are going to be affected by these regulations, make sure your laptop or other devices are as safe as possible in your checked baggage.
- If there are liquids or gels in your luggage, wrap the electronics in sealed, clear plastic to protect them in case of spills.
- Pack them in the centre of the suitcase, not on the sides, so they’re surrounded by a good cushion of soft fabric.
- Make sure the device is switched off when you pack it, and not on standby or in “sleep” mode.
- Use a good lock and ensure that any side compartments on your suitcase/bag are sealed – cable ties are great for this.
- Use the luggage wrapping service available at most airports for extra security.
- Allow extra time at airports for check-in and security
We suspect paperback novels will see an increase in airport sales over the next few weeks. Plan your entertainment ahead of time, especially if you’re travelling with children – try some fun books or a pack of cards! Audiobooks are another great option, and can be listened to from a mobile or from smaller devices like iPods, which are not included in the ban.
Or load a few games onto your mobile to keep the peace, we won’t judge…
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