The UK today imposed a ban on carrying laptops as part of cabin baggage on Britain-bound passenger flights from six Muslim-majority countries, hours after US introduced a similar move citing terrorism concerns. The ban will cover around 14 airlines that operate direct flights from largely Muslim countries – Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia.
The UK restrictions also apply to tablets, DVD players and phones over certain size. “Direct flights to the UK from these destinations can continue to operate to the UK subject to new measures being in place. Travellers are advised to keep up-to-date with the latest FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] travel advice and to check online with their chosen airline for further information,” a UK government spokesperson said.
Under the new arrangements, passengers boarding flights to the UK from the countries affected will not be allowed to take any phones, laptops or tablets larger than a normal sized mobile or smartphone (Length: 16.0cm, Width: 9.3cm, Depth: 1.5cm) into the cabin of the plane. Any such devices will need to be placed into hold luggage and checked-in before going through central security.
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“The additional security measures may cause some disruption for passengers and flights, and we understand the frustration that will cause, but our top priority will always be to maintain the safety of British nationals,” the spokesperson said. “The safety and security of the travelling public is our highest priority. That is why we keep our aviation security under constant review and put in place measures we believe are necessary, effective and proportionate,” he added.
British Prime Minister Theresa May chaired a number of meetings on aviation security over the last few weeks, including this morning, where the new aviation security measures were agreed. The government said it has also been in close touch with the Americans to “fully understand” their position.
The British airlines affected include British Airways, EasyJet, Jet2.com, Monarch, Thomas Cook and Thomson. The foreign airlines hit by the new ban include Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airways, Atlas-Global Airlines, Middle East Airlines, Egyptair, Royal Jordanian, Tunis Air and Saudia.
They have been informed about the changes and will begin implementing the ban immediately. The attempted downing of an airliner in Somalia last year was linked to a laptop device, and some media reports have claimed that the new security precautions are an attempt to stop similar incidents.