Middle East Airlines Hit By Secretive US Ban On Passengers' Electronic Devices

Elbert EdwardsMar 21, 2017

US authorities are planning to ban passengers traveling on certain USA -bound foreign airline flights from carrying into the cabin larger electronic devices in response to an unspecified terrorism threat, USA officials told Reuters on Monday.

Royal Jordanian said it was following "instructions from the concerned U.S. departments" and would ban "laptops, cameras, DVD players, and electronic games" from the flight cabins. The only devices to be excluded from the ban are cell phones and medical devices needed during the flight.

At least two Middle Eastern airlines are telling passengers that laptops, tablet computers and other electronic devices are no longer allowed as carry-on items in flights headed to the United States, citing orders from U.S. authorities. The ban comes into effect starting March 21 and airlines are expected to comply within 96 hours.

"We have no comment on potential security precautions, but will provide an update when appropriate", DHS spokesperson David Lappan told JewishPress.com in an emailed response, declining to reveal the list of countries affected or the reason for the ban. It is not clear whether airline staff are also covered by these new restrictions.

Royal Jordanian Airlines didn't specify which US departments instructed this ban, or specify whether the ban was temporary or permanent.

CNN's Jon Ostrower reports that more than a dozen airlines are affected by these new procedures, but it's unclear which airlines we're actually talking about.

Prior to the Reuters report, representatives for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) told Newsweek to direct its inquiry to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, though a TSA representative acknowledged the agency was aware of the Royal Jordanian tweet.

A tweet sent by Royal Jordanian about the policy has since been removed. One airline based in the Middle East had tweeted about the rule earlier on Monday, but later deleted the tweet.

In its tweet, Royal Jordanian referenced "instructions from the concerned USA departments" but did not offer further details.

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