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Electronics Banned On Flights To The United States From 13 Countries | Pack Accordingly

By Kishore Sawh on March 20th 2017

Here’s the gist: it’s being reported from several nations through official statements and from some airlines, that there is a different travel ban of sorts that is affecting flights to the United States from 13 countries. As of the latest news, ALL electronics other than cell phones have been banned from cabins on flights flying direct to the United States from 13 countries for the next 96 hours at least, starting Tuesday. That means laptops, hard drives, cameras, and all else will be strictly prohibited in the cabin and must be checked.

The story seems to have begun with a somewhat cryptic twitter post from Royal Jordanian Airlines, essentially laying out the terms of the ban. The tweet was later deleted, but here’s a saved copy below:

While there has been no official TSA (Transportation Security Administration) announcement, CNN is reporting they have had confirmation from unnamed officials that the ban is indeed taking effect on March 21, and will affect more than a dozen airlines, and the new rules will also revive other strict rules regarding liquids and so on,

Good to note here that the ban also seems to apply to flights that stop over in other countries but continue onto the U.S, such as Royal Jordanian flights that fly through Montreal. It also appears that the regulations omit American carriers as apparently they don’t fly directly to the US from the countries listed. Something to question is what will be done about batteries. We’re generally told not to put lithium batteries in checked bags, so we wonder if we’ll have to remove them all and keep batteries with us, and what does that mean for devices like laptops with no removable battery?

Many of us photographers will remember in 2014 there was an initiative that required all electronics to be turned on during security checks before flying into the US. While that was supposed to last a short time, many including myself have seen it happen up to last year. The difference here is, that was a widely announced effort, and in this case it all seems rather cryptic and American agencies seem tight-lipped.


I think we can all agree that we prefer to be safe than sorry and we don’t mind our devices being thoroughly checked, but we are nervous putting our cameras and lenses and computers and such in checked baggage – a look out your window as they’re loading the plane will tell you why. As of this time the list of countries has not been released, so this is a caution to all photographers and creatives traveling with the usual digital devices to take the extra precaution, and to have the right kind of storage for your gear should you have to place them as checked baggage. I’d also say this may not be a bad time to make sure your insurance it up to date…

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Lotus Buccola

    I’ll take a BOAT to where ever I’m going.  You can’t pay me to put my gear into the checked section of a plane.  I know what they do when packing luggage, much less the rate of loosing baggage.  Not happening with my gear.  I’ll plan to be 2-3 more days just to take a boat and trains then deal with airlines who opt for this. 

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  2. adam sanford

    Unlike the recent immigration bans, this may actually survive US
    legal challenges because I’m guessing the airlines/airports in question
    won’t have the ACLU, Amnesty Int’l and other human rights groups up in
    arms about this. 

    Target *people* (especially a class/group of people)
    and an army of lawyers will correctly come after you.  But target an
    *airport/airline*, etc. without restricting the movement of people and
    those same public interest figures will likely stay home.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      I agree. Though they’ve said it’ll be for 96 hours initially…i see it possibly being longer.  It’s all problematic though, because being in the cargo hold doesn’t make it safe necessarily. Not, as i mentioned above, does that solve the lithium battery issue

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  3. Muhammad Al-Qatam

    The nine airlines covered by the US ban are Royal Jordanian, EgyptAir, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways.

    The 10 airports affected by the US ban are:

    1. Mohammed V International, Casablanca, Morocco 

    2. Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey

    3. Cairo International Airport, Egypt

    4. Queen Alia International, Amman, Jordan

    5. King Abdulaziz International, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

    6. King Khalid International, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

    7. Kuwait International Airport

    8. Hamad International, Doha, Qatar

    9. Abu Dhabi International, United Arab Emirates

    10. Dubai International, United Arab Emirates

    The UK and Canada will apply the same ban, and this will affect direct non-stop flights. So, till now, connection flights are the way to go. 

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  4. adam sanford

    Pelican stock will go up a jillion percent as a result of this.

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  5. Marcel Laponder

    Does the rule apply if you leave the battery in checked baggage and fly with carry on with either just lenses and a housing without a battery?

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    • Kishore Sawh

      I’m not really one to advise you on the specifics, Marcel, but I can tell you that leaving batteries in checked bags is something you shouldn’t do.  I also don’t think the issue is necessarily the batteries alone.  

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    • Sam Tyler

      No it will not work, I flew from Delhi and had to in my   pack my three Canon bodies in my checked luggage no exceptions allowed. I was able to carry my lens in my camera backpack.  When we reached Kuwait to change planes our carry ons  were screamed again  having to open the backpack to insure tha I was not carrying any camera bodies.

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  6. Emilio Savov

    I just wait for the moment when US will start a ban on passengers onboard a plane, and start checking them as luggage. It’s more secure if you’re not allowed to carry any luggage and if you’re stuffed like cattle in the luggage area of the plane!

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Haha. Killing me with this. But you’re too right. 

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    • Emilio Savov

      I mean… it’s getting to a point where it’s ridiculous .. :-/ .. I understand security and concern about terrorism and all that ..I agree there have to have boundaries, you can’t have a knife, a scissors… but what can I do with a camera on board? Flash you with a speedlite to death ? :)

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  7. Casey Nyambe

    This places real stress on one flying, as they will spend the bulk of their time worrying about the sanctity of the gear and/or equipment. Notwithstanding the potential loss or damage to $K worth of gear. Pas bien ! 

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  8. Kenny Van

    And I can see more of equipments get lost or broken during the trips.  I myself lost a pair of expensive sun glasses after my bags got checked. I wonder how those big news broadcasters will deal with this.

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