Here’s What the New U.S. “Electronics Ban” Means for Air Travelers

airline electronics ban
It’s been two weeks since the United States and the U.K. enacted the so-called “electronics ban” and most travelers still have no idea what it means and if/how it will affect them. While it sounds scary (“You want me to go how long without Hulu?”), its application is quite narrow. Here’s what you need to know.

Why Now?

The enaction in both countries stems from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) claim that, “terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation and are aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items.” The agency has been vague about the specifics and why this ban was enacted now, but Britain deemed the threat credible enough to pass their own ban. What’s curious is that both countries target different airports.

Where Is the Ban in Effect?

The number of flights affected is actually quite small — just 3% of total international flights in/out of each country on the list. However, even small changes in specific airlines can have ripple effects on airport security in particular and airports in general. Currently, the U.S. ban applies only to flights departing from these ten cities:

  • Egypt: Cairo
  • Turkey: Istanbul
  • Jordan: Amman
  • Saudi Arabia: Riyadh and Jeddah
  • United Arab Emirates: Dubai and Abu Dhabi
  • Kuwait: Kuwait City
  • Morocco: Casablanca
  • Qatar: Doha

The DHS is quick to point out that the new regulations will not apply to every flight from the above airports. So, for now, the situation is unpredictable at best, although travelers should prepare for the worst. The ban does not currently apply to any domestic U.S. flights.

What Is Being Banned and How?

What the ban means in practice is that travelers will be required to pack electronics in their checked baggage at their origin airport. This includes just about every major piece of kit larger than a smartphone including laptops, digital cameras, tablets, e-readers, etc. Read: all of your most expensive luggage. Since the Conditions of Carry for most airlines (both domestic and international) are only required to abide by the Montreal Convention, they’re not liable for more than approximately $700 USD of loss or damage.

Some airlines have proactively devised a compromise. Emirates, for example, allows travelers to continue using their electronics at the gate and on the first leg of their journey. Once they reach Dubai (Emirates’ hub), however, they are required to produce their banned electronics to airline staff who will box and catalog each piece aboard the aircraft. On the plus side, this “service” is free.

What’s the Alternative?

Your best bet is to secure proper travel insurance which, frankly, every traveler should have anyway. Companies like Allianz and World Nomads offer straightforward policies that protect not only your gear but you as well in the event of an errant hot air ballooning or skydiving accident. You may be already insured under your homeowner’s/renter’s insurance policy, so be sure to check that first. Read your contract carefully, so you know what’s covered in advance. Some plans cover very specific gear and only up to a certain amount per item.

If you absolutely must travel with your electronics, the only other viable option is to ship your gear home from your destination. Most international airports have post offices or shipping providers like FedEx (which provides specialty padded boxes for shipping laptops, tablets, and small electronics) in the terminal and most offer or include insurance. This can be a far cheaper option, especially if you don’t require comprehensive travel insurance.

Travel

Travel Like a Millionaire and Stay In Mansions for Free with this Home Swap Trick

Love Home Swap allows you to, well, home swap with the owners of mansions and luxurious villas around the world.
Travel

LAX’s Exclusive Private Suite Will Make You Love Waiting at the Airport

Now you can skate through the airport with nary a scuff on your fancy Chelsea boots.
Travel

Locally Made Artisan Souvenirs Now Available in Airport Vending Machines

Shopping for 100-percent local artisan souvenirs is now as easy as buying a Snickers.
Auto

Harley-Davidson Wants to Harness Lightning with the Production LiveWire

If Harley-Davidson wants LiveWire to be a success, not only does it need to drive well, but it needs to be priced so the next generation of riders can afford it.
Travel

Virgin Voyages Announces Squid Ink, the World’s First Tattoo Studio at Sea

Now, after one too many daiquiris aboard a cruise ship, you can commemorate the experience forever with a tattoo.
Travel

World’s First ‘Craft Beer Airline’ Scheduled to Takeoff from London

It's kind of like Hooters Air, but with better beer and less pantyhose.
Travel

The Ultimate Guide to a Road Trip Across Newfoundland

One of Canada’s most remote provinces is also one of the most spectacular places to visit within the massive country.
Travel

The Best Travel and Adventure Documentaries on Netflix Right Now

If you're reading this, you're staring at a screen. Wouldn't you rather be exploring a different part of the world than the Internet? So get inspired.
Travel

10 Best Travel Gifts for a Modern Gentleman Nomad

For the sophisticated gentleman traveler in your life, your holiday shopping begins here.
Travel

The Future of Luxury Air Travel Is Sleeping in the Cargo Hold

It should be far more luxurious than sleeping amid crated dogs and stacks of luggage.
Food & Drink

7 Best Tequila Bars in Mexico City

Jaime Salas, the national brand ambassador for Milagro, takes us on a tequila-drinking journey via the best bars in CDMX.
Travel

An Entire Swiss Village Could Become One Beautiful ‘Scattered Hotel’

Spend the night at an authentic, 19th-century Swiss village before it disappears forever.
Outdoors

6 Best U.S. National Parks to Visit in the Winter

Smaller crowds at some of the more popular parks are just one of the benefits.
Travel

Traveling Alone Can Be an Unforgettable Adventure with Contiki Tours

Ever wanted to climb a volcano and make chocolate in the same trip? Check out Contiki Tours and their curated trip to Ecuador.