Muscat: Travel agents working in the Sultanate have started advising people travelling to United States to carry all their electronic items in their checked baggage.
“Even if you are transiting via Dubai, Doha, Istanbul or Abu Dhabi, we are advising our passengers to keep all their electronic items in the checked bags,” said Riyaz Kuttery, chief operating officer at Mezoon International Travel.
He added that bookings for Gulf carriers to the United States may fall because of this issue. “Asking them to fly for 10 to 14 hours without a laptop means asking them to fly with all their connections cut, which a lot of businessman will not do,” Kuttery said.
UAE-based Emirates Airlines said the new security directive issued by the United States’ 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.
“It is applicable to all U.S.-bound passengers from the Dubai International Airport, whether originating or transiting through. Emirates requests that all passengers travelling to the U.S. pack all electronic devices larger than a cell phone/smart phone in their checked baggage,” Emirates said.
The other option is to check in twice for your travel to the United States, according to travel agents. “You can check in at Muscat International Airport and then check out at Doha or Dubai and then again check in Dubai or Doha for United States with your laptops and tablets in the checked in bags,” a travel agent from New Star
Meanwhile, airlines have started making special arrangements to assist passengers. “Qatar Airways has made special arrangements to assist passengers in securing their devices in the aircrafts’ baggage hold. Prohibited devices, including but not limited to laptops, tablets, DVD players and electronic games, must be carried in the checked luggage only,” the airline said in a statement.
Frequent flyers from Oman are, however, upset.
“This issue is very complicated. Now we will have to take
other airlines,” an Indian businessman said.
“If there are urgent work emails—although smart phones have everything on them now—there could be a presentation on the laptop or on an i-Pad that needs to be sent immediately, I would not be able to do that,” he said.