Laptops, tablets and other gadgets banned from cabin on some US-bound flights

In-flight terror fears kindled.

Laptops, tablets and other gadgets banned from cabin on some US-bound flights

CNN reports:

Airlines that fly from certain countries in the Middle East and Africa to the United States must soon require passengers to check in almost all electronic devices rather than carry them into the cabin, a U.S. official said.

The official said this will impact some airlines flying into the U.S. Another U.S. administration official says this covers devices larger than a cellphone.

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An aviation official told CNN that there is a security concern regarding passengers boarding nonstop flights to the U.S. from specific countries. This relates to the “screening in [some] countries” for nonstop flights to the U.S.

I’m no expert on airplane safety, but I think I would be more worried about a fire starting unobserved mid-flight in the luggage hold than in the passenger cabin.

The regulations are expected to come into force this week.

Update: As BBC News reports, it appears the UK is going to put a similar requirement in place for UK-bound flights.

If you don’t like the idea of not having your electronic devices in your personal possession during a flight (perhaps for fear that the authorities might snoop on them, or install spyware), you might be wise to leave them at home.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

9 comments on “Laptops, tablets and other gadgets banned from cabin on some US-bound flights”

  1. Gregs

    This ruling is fine by me. Should be made by law across all planes around the world. I don't want some idiot with Kali Linux connecting to the Inflight Entertainment System causing panic.

    1. Gregs · in reply to Gregs

      According to the BBC, looks like the UK has announced the same. Excellent :)

  2. drsolly

    If it's wise to do this for some flights, surely it's wise to do it for all, from anywhere to anywhere?

    1. Graham CluleyGraham Cluley · in reply to drsolly

      You clearly forgot to check in your excess logic.

  3. Bob

    Seems like a stupid idea to me. If your allowed to take your laptop anyway (albeit in the hold) then what exactly is the point? As the Editor here says, it's pointless:

    "Philip Baum, editor in chief of Aviation Security magazine, told the BBC: "If we cannot, in 2017, distinguish between a laptop that contains an IED [improvised explosive device] and one that does not, then our screening process is completely flawed.

    And encouraging people to check laptops, and other such items, into the luggage hold simply makes the challenge even harder. Cabin baggage can, at least, be inspected piece by piece and the accompanying passenger questioned."

  4. Mirela

    Hi Graham,

    Here is a link that might shed some light over the situation Anyway, my opinion is that this decision is quite dangerous for the aviation industry.

    Firstly, the rule applies especially to Middle East based airlines.

    The US administration wants to have almost all electronic devices within the plane’s cargo bay to avoid fires within the plane cabin. Therefore, leaving the fire for the cargo bay, where unattended it could led to plane crash.

    Secondly, in case of a crash, US administration would say ”you see these companies are dangerous”, therefore “they should be banned from US”. I think that this law is intended to hit Middle East based airlines.

    A friend of mine suggested this news to be renamed “another (apparently) absurd Trump decision”.

    We'll what happens next.


    1. Paul · in reply to Mirela

      The ruling also affects any flight from any airline starting from certain ME counties. My girlfriend is cabin crew for a well known UK carrier, and has been told that this rule may affect her on the return leg from ME to UK. At least, that was the situation yesterday. I'm not sure it's really about Trump vs Emirates or whatever (unless he lifts the ban from US based airlines).

      All the same, I find it hard to see how it's supposed to help.

  5. Matthew Parkes

    Not only is it the world going mad or should that be Trump going mad – was he ever really sane in the first place it is also showing how lazy airlines are getting as mentioned in a post above.

    As someone has said if the reason behind this is to prevent fires in the cabin area then what if the fire starts in the hold even if the device is off (not sure how likely a fire would be in this scenario), would this not be even more dangerous?

    Again if individuals are utilising mobile devices as weapons then they should be stopped at the screening stage , are airlines not confident in their training and procedures to detect these types of things?

    I suspect there is more too it than this and it will come out in the next few days

  6. Adrian

    Surprise surprise, a month ago the CEOs of the three big US airlines met with Trump to discuss "business" and now the big competition, Etihad and Emirates are inconvenienced due to a "security" ruling.

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