US authorities are planning to ban passengers traveling on certain US-bound foreign airline flights from carrying into the cabin larger electronic devices in response to an unspecified terrorism threat, US officials told Reuters on Monday.
The new rule is expected to be announced as early as Monday by the Department of Homeland Security, the officials said, adding that it had been under consideration since the US government learned of a threat several weeks ago.
The source said the policy would cover a dozen foreign airlines flying from about a dozen countries, including some from the Middle East, and would include airlines based in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The officials did not name the other countries.
The officials said no American carriers were affected by the ban, which would apply to devices larger than a cell phone, but did not say why. Passengers would only be allowed to carry larger devices like tablets, laptops and cameras in their checked luggage.
Jordanian Airlines said in a now-deleted tweet on Monday that US-bound passengers would be barred from carrying most electronic devices aboard aircraft starting Tuesday at the request of US officials, including those that transit through Canada. Passengers can still carry cell phones and approved medical devices.
The airlines issued a new message via twitter that “further updates will be announced”, using the hashtag “electronicsban”.
Al Riyadh newspaper, which is close to the Saudi government, reported that the civil aviation authority had informed “airlines flying from the kingdom’s (Saudi) airports to US airports of the latest measures from US security agencies in which passengers must store laptops and tablets” in checked-in baggage.
Al Riyadh quoted a civil aviation authority source as saying that these measures from senior US authorities were relayed to the Saudi interior ministry.
Saudia Airlines confirmed in a tweet that US transportation authorities had barred carrying larger electronic devices in cabin luggage.
The White House declined to comment.
A spokesman for the US Department of Homeland Security, David Lapan, said the agency has “no comment on potential security precautions, but will provide an update when appropriate”. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly called congressional lawmakers this weekend to notify them of the plan, congressional aides said.
In July 2014, the department stepped up security of US-bound flights, requiring tougher screening of mobile phones and other electronic devices, and requiring them to be powered up before passengers could board flights to the United States.[Source: Middle East eye]