U.S. authorities ban electronic devices on flights from multiple countries

Electronics are now banned on Royal Jordanian flights into the U.S.
Image: Royal Jordanian

UPDATED Mar. 20 5:34 p.m. PT to reflect the ban’s extension beyond Royal Jordanian.

U.S. authorities have told airlines from multiple nations to forbid passengers from carrying laptops or electronic devices on board their aircraft on flights in or out of the U.S., the Guardian reports. The instructions, which cover laptops, iPads, cameras and other electronics, reportedly came via a “confidential” email from the TSA on Monday.

While the full list of airlines affected is unknown, both Saudi Arabia’s Saudia Airlines and Royal Jordanian Airlines are affected by the new rules, which go into effect Tuesday. While the Guardian reports 13 countries are impacted, that number has not been confirmed publicly by the Department of Homeland Security. More information is expected to be released Tuesday.

The news first broke via a tweet, since deleted, from Royal Jordanian Airlines Monday. “Following instructions from concerned U.S. departments, carrying any electronic or electrical device on board the flight cabins is strictly prohibited,” the airline’s statement said.

Cellphones and medical devices are OK, the statement said, but everything else has to go into your checked luggage which mostly defeats the purpose of all these devices to entertain you during a long international flight.

Jon Ostrower, an aviation reporter at CNN, reported Monday that the ban impacts more than a dozen Middle Eastern and African-based airlines, although that number hasn’t been confirmed.

A media spokesman from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said the agency had “no comment on potential security precautions,” but said they would provide any updates. We’ve reached out to Royal Jordanian and other Middle Eastern-based airlines for further details.

A government official told Reuters Monday that the new ban is in response to an unspecified terrorism threat.

People initially responded to the Royal Jordanian post with frustration and confusion. Many commented that the airline would lose customers over this policy. One person asked if they could still wear their watch on board.

The new rule is expected to be officially announced Tuesday.

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