According to a US official quoted by CNN, all airlines flying from certain countries in Africa and the Middle East to the United States will ask their passengers to check in their electronic devices, effective March 21st.
Until now, iPads and laptops were allowed into the cabin, but from now on, all devices larger than a cellphone will have to be stored in checked baggage.
The measure affects 13 countries but the ban is said to be temporary, being applied on certain flights both out and into each of the respective countries.
However, the electronic ban does not apply to medical devices and cell phones, yet it does include tablets (I wonder about phablets, are they allowed?), laptops, cameras and electronic games. Among the affected countries there are Royal Jordanian airlines and Saudi Arabia’s Saudia airlines, but the full list has yet to be revealed.
US government officials say that over 12 airlines flying into the US will be affected by the electronic ban measure. An aviation official was quoted by CNN saying that the decision was made as a security measure due to increased concerns about passengers boarding non-stop flights to the United States from the respective countries.
The 13 countries in question are currently lacking trustworthy screening procedures and the electronic ban is said to be just a temporary measure which is aimed at enhancing security at select locations (airports) for a limited duration.
Another US government official told CNN that the electronic ban is related to AQAP (Al Quaeda in the Arabian Peninsula), as the intelligence community enhanced the threat level after AQAP was discovered trying to manufacture IEDs with tiny amounts of metal content, i.e. targeting directly commercial flights.
US carriers will not be affected by the ban, as they do not fly directly from the 13 countries to the US.
We can soon expect a judge in Hawaii to declare that having your MacBook in your carry on is a fundamental human right.