WASHINGTON - Passengers traveling from 10 airports in eight Middle East and African countries will be barred from bringing laptops and other large electronics into the cabin as carry-ons starting as early as Tuesday.
Two Middle Eastern-based airlines tweeted on Monday that passengers would not be allowed to bring laptops, Kindles, iPads and other electronics on flights heading to the U.S.
Unnamed officials told CNN that the move was to address a security concern involving passengers boarding non-stop flights to the United States from airports in specific countries. The officials did not specify the countries but did say the ban would be in effect for a limited period of time.
U.S. airlines will not be affected since none fly non-stop to any of the countries singled out in the directive, according to the CNN report.
CNN added that “State Department officials say embassy officials have been notifying relevant countries and airlines.”
However, that effort to notify the relevant countries has not eased any of the confusion about the reported electronics ban.
The uncertainty started earlier on Monday when Royal Jordanian Airlines somewhat cryptically warned passengers that electronic devices such as laptops, cameras and DVD players would be “strictly prohibited” in the cabin on its flights to the United States and would have to be checked.
Royal Jordanian’s prohibition was scheduled to begin Tuesday on its flights to New York, Chicago and Detroit, according to an airline tweet. Royal Jordanian’s flights to Montreal, which currently continues on to Detroit, would also be affected. The restriction doesn’t apply to cellphones or medical devices "needed during flight," the airline's tweet said.
In that tweet — since deleted — Royal Jordanian referenced “instructions from the concerned U.S. departments" but did not offer further details.
Saudi Airlines also tweeted that starting Wednesday laptops and devices such as iPads and Kindles are forbidden on flights going to the United States.
Those tweets led a number of aviation industry observers to take to social media to note a change appeared to be coming. It took hours for details to emerge.
The restriction appears to be an enhancement of requirements in July 2014 that required travelers to turn on electronics before boarding overseas headed to the U.S.
But while that 2014 guidance was formally announced, security officials were tight-lipped Monday about any additional changes that might be afoot.
The Transportation Security Administration, which ensures that security meets U.S. standards at airports that send flights to the U.S., and the Department of Homeland Security each said: “We have no comment on potential security precautions, but will provide any update as appropriate.”
The 2014 tightening of security — since relaxed — came after the department warned about terrorists developing new strategies for hiding explosives on flights. If electronic devices couldn’t be turned on, they weren’t allowed in the cabin.
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