More may join device ban in plane cabins

A Syrian woman travelling to the United States opens her laptop before checking in at Beirut international airport on March 22, 2017.
A Syrian woman travelling to the United States opens her laptop before checking in at Beirut international airport on March 22, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • More travellers face the inconvenient prospect of having to check in their laptops and tablet computers as countries such as Canada and France consider following the lead of the United States and Britain in banning carry-on electronic devices.

The American measure applies to flights to the US from 10 airports in eight countries - Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

The British ban affects all the airports in six countries - Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey. Airlines have to implement the measure by Saturday.

The restrictions are different, and only Britain has specified the maximum size of electronic device allowed - 16cm by 9.3cm.

In announcing the ban, the US government warned that extremists are looking for "innovative" ways to bring down passenger jets with explosive devices hidden in electronic devices bigger than smartphones.

In Canada and France, officials are considering whether to impose similar measures.

For now, Germany, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand said they are not mulling over a ban.

In Singapore, the authorities said they are keeping tabs on developments, which could inconvenience business travellers.

The Singapore Police Force and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore are monitoring developments, the agencies told The Straits Times, when asked if Singapore might change its flight security protocol.

Security experts are divided over whether such a ban is effective.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2017, with the headline 'More may join device ban in plane cabins'. Print Edition | Subscribe