Muscat: Passengers flying to the United States from Oman via the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia cannot carry any electronic device larger than a cell phone after new restrictions were imposed by the US government.
UAE-based Emirates Airlines confirmed in an email to the Times of Oman that the new security directive issued by the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), states that electronic devices larger than a cell phone/smart phone, excluding medical devices, cannot be carried in the cabin of the aircraft. “The directive comes into effect from Saturday (March 25, 2017), and is valid until October 14, 2017.
“It is applicable to all US-bound passengers from the Dubai International Airport, whether originating or transiting through. Emirates requests that all passengers travelling to the US pack all electronic devices larger than a cell phone/smart phone in their checked-in baggage,” the Emirates spokesperson said.
According to the US Embassy in Muscat’s spokesperson Christy Watkins, the US Embassy in Muscat is aware of aviation security enhancements for 10 specific airports with direct commercial flights to the United States.
For specific information related to aviation security enhancements, travellers are encouraged to visit the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) website at https://www.dhs.gov/news-releases/fact-sheets.
Britain follows suit
Britain has also introduced restrictions on carry-on electronic goods on direct inbound flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia for the safety of the public, a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said on Tuesday.
“Direct flights to the UK from these destinations continue to operate to the UK subject to these new measures being in place,” the spokesman told reporters.
“We think these steps are necessary and proportionate to allow passengers to travel safely.”
Phones, laptops or tablets over 16 cm in length, 9.3 cm in width and with a depth of over 1.5 cm will not be allowed into the cabin. These items would have to be in checked-in hold luggage, the spokesman added.
The factsheet shared by US TSA states that aviation security enhancements apply to 10 specific airports.
The US Department of Homeland Security stated in the factsheet that evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation and are aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks, including smuggling explosive devices in various
“Based on this information, the Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Transportation Security Administrator Acting Administrator Huban Gowadia have determined it necessary to enhance security procedures for passengers at certain last point of departure airports to the United States,” the factsheet stated.
The foreign airports affected as a result are the Queen Alia International Airport (AMM), Cairo International Airport (CAI), Ataturk International Airport (IST), King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED), King Khalid International Airport (RUH), Kuwait International Airport (KWI), Mohammed V Airport (CMN), Hamad International Airport (DOH), Dubai International Airport (DXB), and the Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH).
An Etihad Airways spokesperson said: “Following a directive from U.S. authorities affecting selected airports, Etihad Airways has advised that guests travelling to the United States from the Abu Dhabi International Airport are not permitted to carry electronic devices larger than a cell phone or smart phone in the cabin.”
“Mobile phones and medical devices are permitted, but larger items, such as laptops, tablets, cameras and e-readers will need to be placed into checked-in
“For those guests bound for the US, this must be done at the point of origin, which may not necessarily be at the Abu Dhabi International Airport. The new rules come into effect for those US-bound flights departing Abu Dhabi on March 25.”
“Safety and security remain the highest priority for Etihad Airways and we will continue to assist passengers in complying with this directive. Further information will be available on our website at etihad.com.”
A Qatar Airways spokesman said: “Effective March 21, in accordance with new United States’ government regulations, all passengers travelling on US-bound flights are prohibited from carrying any electronic devices on board the flight other than cellular and smart phones and medical devices needed during the flight.”
“Qatar Airways has made special arrangements to assist passengers in securing their devices in the aircraft’s baggage hold. Prohibited devices, including laptops, tablets, DVD players and electronic games must be carried in the checked luggage only.”
The aviation security enhancements will include requiring all personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone or smart phone be placed in checked baggage at 10 airports where flights are departing for the United States.
“A small percentage of flights to the United States will be affected, and the exact number of flights will vary on a day to day basis. Airlines will know in advance which flights are affected by these measures,” the factsheet noted.
It added that electronic devices larger than a cell phone/smart phone will not be allowed to be carried onboard the aircraft in carry-on luggage or other accessible property.
Electronic devices that exceed this size limit must be secured in the checked luggage. Necessary medical devices will be allowed to remain in a passenger’s possession after they are screened. The approximate size of a commonly available smart phone is considered to be a guideline for passengers.
Examples of large electronic devices that will not be allowed in the cabin on affected flights include, but are not limited to laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, electronic game units larger than a smart phone and travel printers/scanners.
The airlines have until Friday to comply with the new restrictions.
A travel agent in Muscat said they will advise passengers to follow the airlines’ instructions.
“We will alert passengers travelling to U.S. from Oman via airports in the region listed by the U.S. government to follow the directives,” Santhosh Kanakandath, managing director of Assaraya Travel and Tourism, told the Times of Oman.
No American carriers are affected by the ban, because none can fly directly to the United States from the airports, officials said. But it does apply to U.S. citizens travelling on those flights. It does not apply to crew members on those foreign carriers.
The new restrictions were prompted by reports that terror groups want to smuggle explosive devices in consumer electronic devices, officials told reporters on a conference call Monday.
The US government said in a statement that it is “concerned about terrorists’ ongoing interest in targeting commercial aviation, including transportation hubs over the past two years.”
“Intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items,” the statement added.
The government has been worried about terror groups attempting to bomb a commercial aircraft, but an official on the call repeatedly declined to offer any details about the threat that prompted the move.
Reuters reported Monday that the move had been under consideration since the U.S. government learned of a threat several weeks ago.