All airports previously affected by US electronics ban now exempt

Airports in 10 majority-Muslim countries have been exempted from the US electronics ban.
Written by Tas Bindi, Contributor on

International airports in Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia are the last to be granted exception from the US ban on large electronic devices, state-owned carrier Saudia announced on its website this week.

Direct flights from Jeddah and Riyadh to the US will no longer be required to conform to the ban that required airports to pack any electronic devices with dimensions larger than 16cm x 9.3cm x 1.5cm into checked luggage.

All 10 of the majority-Muslim countries that were affected by the US electronics have now been deemed to meet the requirements of the US Department of Homeland Security's new security guidelines.

US Homeland Security secretary John Kelly said in June that the new measures to screen flights coming into the US is an attempt to avoid further expanding the electronics ban.

Kelly stated that airlines will be required to introduce enhanced screening of personal electronic devices, passengers, and test for explosives -- potentially through more swabbing and clothing checks -- for roughly 2,000 commercial flights arriving into the US on a daily basis from 280 airports in 105 countries.

More canine searches and areas for interviews and secondary screening will also be required.

Over the last two weeks, airlines such as EgyptAir, Etihad, Qatar Airlines, and Turkish Airlines announced within days of each other that their passengers will be allowed to carry large devices such as laptops and tablets as carry-on items on direct flights to the US, after going through enhanced inspection procedures.

The electronics ban, enforced in March, was prompted by reports that militant groups are looking to smuggle explosives inside electronic devices. It was later confirmed that the government was not acting in response to a new threat, but an ongoing one, with a senior US administration officials saying that "evaluated intelligence" pointed to terrorists "aggressively pursuing" ways to carry out attacks, such as hiding explosives in electronic devices.

The ban followed two failed executive actions by US President Donald Trump attempting to prohibit immigrants entering the US from seven majority-Muslim nations. Both attempts to implement the orders were later shut down for being "unconstitutional" by the lower courts.

However, the US Supreme Court recently temporarily approved a limited version [PDF] of Trump's travel ban, saying that it would hear arguments from Trump's legal counsel when justices return for their next term in October.

In the meantime, the Supreme Court said it would grant parts of the Trump administration's emergency request to put the March 6 executive order into effect immediately.

UK authorities similarly imposed an electronics ban on flights from countries including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, and Tunisia in March, saying the measures were "necessary, effective, and proportionate" but did not explain why.

In May, the Australian federal government also announced that it was considering implementing an electronics ban in response to terrorism threats, but is yet to do so.

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