Update on the Electronics Ban: Emirates and Qatar Lifted

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I previously reported that the laptop ban was being lifted on Etihad and likely being lifted for Turkish Airlines in Istanbul, too. Well, now, more airlines have been cleared. Both Emirates and Qatar have been dropped from the laptop ban, so now that all of the “big three” Middle Eastern countries can fly directly flights from their hubs to the US without any restrictions on electronics. Saudia is expected to see its band lifted for two of its airports this month.

Qatar Airways announced:

Qatar Airways is pleased to confirm that with immediate effect, all personal electronic devices can be carried on board all departures from Hamad International Airport, Doha, to destinations in the United States.

Qatar Airways and Hamad International Airport have met with all requirements of the US Department of Homeland Security’s new security guidelines and we would like to express our thanks to the US and local authorities for their support during this process.

We would also like to thank our loyal passengers for their understanding and patience while the ban has been in place.

This is big news for Qatar as they’re introducing their new Q-Suites to flights to the US as soon as September of 2017. While Qatar did offer loaner laptops to premium passengers during the ban, there were many practical and security reasons why such laptops wouldn’t suffice for many business travelers so this is a huge positive change for Qatar.

With the ban likely being removed from Saudia very soon, this leaves the following airlines still subject to the electronics ban:

  • EgyptAir
  • Kuwait Airways
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Royal Jordanian

While these airlines are subject to the ban, all other airlines with direct flights to the US still must comply with the new security measures required by the DHS. The DHS refused to disclose full details of the new policies for obvious reasons but here’s what we know about some of the new regulations:

  • Some will be “seen and unseen”
  • They will be phased in over time
  • They will involve heightened scrutiny of passengers entering the US
  • They will involve enhanced screening of electronic devices
  • We will see better deployment of canines that detect explosives
  • More airports will be encouraged to become US Pre-Clearance airports

We’ve already seen the enhanced screening of electronic devices being implements in the form of “tomography machines.” Tomography machines are essentially CT scans that allow officials to see high-definition, three-dimensional views of the contents of any bag, electronic device, or bottle of fluid. These are far superior than X-ray machines as it’s possible to see far more detail and thus easily detect more objects.

I’m curious to see which airports end up adopting this technology and seeing how universal it becomes. As for now, it’s a great sign to see how quickly these airlines are responding to the DHS’s new requests and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we see the ban dropped from the other existing airlines. Let’s just hope it doesn’t get extended to Europe or other regions of the globe.

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