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UK Announces Ban on Electronic Devices on Middle Eastern Flights After Al-Qaeda Threat

Mar 23, 2017 05:14 AM EDT
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Amid a new Al-Qaeda terror threat, the British government announces it will ban electronic devices on flights from six Middle Eastern nations -- Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

The move was ordered by Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday at the meeting on aviation security. 

The rule said passengers who have with them any electronic gadgets larger than a smartphone would have to put it in their hold luggage, despite concerns that they could be stolen or damaged. Normal smartphones are specified as 16cm x 9.3cm x 1.5cm (6.2in x 3.6in x 0.5in).

Meanwhile, The Guardian reported that the ban will not apply to flights where U.K. travelers change planes in European airports. Although, other European countries are also considering to implement similar restrictions.

"We understand the frustration that these measures may cause and we are working with the aviation industry to minimise any impact," transport secretary Chris Grayling said in a written statement cited by The Guardian. "Our top priority will always be to maintain the safety of British nationals."

The restrictions affect 14 airlines: British Airways, Easyjet, Jet 2, Monarch, Thomas Cook and Thomson, Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airways, Atlas-Global, Egyptair, Tunisair, Royal Jordanian, Saudi and Middle East Airlines.

In an interview with BBC, Simon Calder, travel editor of The Independent, said the ban would particularly affect passengers who only booked hand luggage-only tickets. Since they would now have to pay to check a bag in.

Meanwhile, air industry consultant John Strickland told the Standard that the new restriction will bring forth a new challenge not only for passengers but for airline companies as well.

"One unexpected consequence will be the challenge of additional devices with lithium batteries being stowed in the holds which bring its own challenges to safety," he said.

UK has not announced when exactly will the cabin ban be put into practice, but it said that they have a few days to fully implement it.

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