U.S. and U.K. Flight Ban on Electronic Devices
U.S. and U.K. Ban Large Electronic Devices on Flights
Based on intelligence information, both the U.S. and U.K. issued enhanced aviation security measures in March that prevented travelers who were flying from select countries from bringing large-sized electronic devices into the cabin.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) notified airlines that large electronic devices were prohibited from the cabins of commercial aircrafts on flights to the U.S. from 10 airports in eight countries. Since then, all of the affected airlines and airports have worked with U.S. officials to implement tighter security checks and have had their bans lifted.
Examples of large electronic devices specified by DHS included, but were not limited to:
- Laptop computers
- Portable DVD players
- Electronic game units larger than a smartphone
- Travel printers and scanners
These devices had to be placed in checked baggage. Although mobile phones and medical devices were allowed in the cabin, airlines and security personnel had discretion over what to permit or not permit in the cabin.
U.K. Issues Similar Electronics Ban
The U.K. government issued a similar ban for all flights to the U.K. from six countries: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Turkey. The U.K. limitations are still in place and are slightly more relaxed than the original U.S. limitations; only laptops, tablets, and large phones are listed as banned from the cabin.
Advice for Travelers
If you're traveling from one of the affected countries to the U.K., or if you're connecting in one of the affected cities for your flight to the U.K., consider the following suggestions.
- Check the official transportation security website for your departure country.
- Consult with your airline carrier prior to departure; some airlines may allow you to gate-check your device or may provide loaner devices for in-flight use.
- Only travel with the devices you absolutely need.
- Take steps to protect your data.
- Consider using security-approved locks for your checked baggage.
- Be prepared to check any large electronic devices when you begin your journey. For example, if you're flying from New Delhi to Cairo to London, check your laptop in New Delhi.
- Be prepared for increased wait times at security checkpoints, and give yourself additional time to pass through security.
Currently, the bans only applies to flights entering the U.K. from the specified departure points. Flights departing the U.K. are not affected. It is unknown how long these restrictions may be in effect, if additional countries will be added to the lists, or if other countries will adopt similar policies.
International travelers are facing added scrutiny of late, and regardless of your port of entry or exit, government authorities may request access to your electronic devices and accounts. In June, DHS announced that all travelers flying to the U.S. from foreign airports will have their baggage and electronic devices more rigorously searched.
For more information, refer to the DHS and U.K. guidelines. And as always, if you have any questions, contact us.
- DHS Fact Sheet: aviation security enhancements
- DHS Q&A: aviation security enhancements
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection FAQ: electronic device inspection
- ACLU “know your rights” at airports and other ports
- ACLU blog post “Can Border Agents Search Your Electronic Devices? It’s Complicated."
- U.K. government statement: hand luggage restrictions