US ends the laptop ban with Saudi Arabia becoming the last airline whose customers are now – again – allowed to carry their laptops and other electronic devices on board US-bound flights.
In June, the US issued the new revised security measures directive for all airlines that operate US-bound flights. The laptop ban was lifted for the carriers who follow and implement them. The new security requirements demand stricter baggage screening. In practice, these measures include the installing of explosives trace detection measures such as explosives-detecting scanners or bomb-sniffing dogs at the airports.
The US had announced a ban on the transport of laptops and other electronics in March 2017, fearing that IS terrorists could attempt to hide explosives in batteries and battery compartments. The ban applied to electronics that exceed the size of a regular cell phone, in hand luggage on direct flights to the United States from 10 - mostly Muslim - countries.
The affected airlines were the following: Royal Jordanian Airlines; Egypt Air; Turkish Airlines; Saudi Arabian Airlines; Kuwait Airways; Royal Air Maroc; Qatar Airways and Emirates departing from the Middle East. The first airline to make the laptop ban exemption list was Etihad, while Saudi Arabia became the last.
The had been met with resistance from the get-go not only on behalf of airlines and travelers but also security experts claiming that lithium batteries pose a larger threat in the cargo section of the plane than in the cabin.
The European Aviation Safety Agency has expressed concern with the electronics ban on trans-Atlantic flights because lithium batteries – considered as dangerous goods – pose a risk of accidental fire, which would be even more difficult to contain if the electronic device is in the cargo section. In fact, in 2015, the US Federal Aviation Administration, urged airlines to do the exact opposite of what the laptop ban enforced – not letting travelers pack extra batteries in their carry-on bags.