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Phablets at risk of being banned on affected UK and US inbound flights

By Vijay Anand - on 26 Mar 2017, 4:07pm

These are the electronic devices affected/banned for UK and US inbound flights

Note: A security source told the Guardian the real reason behind the laptop ban. 

Note: This PSA was first published on 23rd March 2017.

The US is banning all electronic devices larger than an average-sized mobile phone. (Image source: AFP/GETTY IMAGES as published on The Straits Times)

Due to the recent heightened risk of terror threat assessment by US and UK authorities, a number of large electronic devices, loosely defined as ‘larger than a normal smartphone’, have been banned from being carried onboard the aircraft cabin of certain flights inbound to the UK and the US. These affected electronic devices will now have to be part of check-in luggage. First off, let’s see what devices are affected, followed by who, what, where and why these measures are put in place.


Affected electronic devices

Broadly speaking, both the UK and US are banning “Large Electronic Devices” to be brought onboard the cabin of certain direct inbound flights (which is detailed further down). How they define it, differ slightly.

The US Department of Homeland Security states this for the affected US inbound flights:-

" Electronic devices larger than a cell phone/smart phone will not be allowed ...

In the UK, several major news outlets have repeatedly mentioned a clearer size restriction of large electronic devices that will be banned on affected UK inbound flights. Here’s a quote from the Evening Standard in UK:-

“The ban covers devices which are larger than a typical smartphone measuring 16cm x 9.3cm x 1.5cm, which will now have to go in the plane's hold.”

While we have no further insights as to how the authorities have derived at that exact size, one thing is for certain – Phablets like the Sony Xperia XA Ultra and the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro are clearly oversized smartphones that are longer than 16cm and may not pass the dimensions laid out (depending on how your checking authority/officer that you encounter perceive the device). To give you a scale of how close these dimensions are cutting it, my personal LG G5 smartphone is nearing 15cm in length and it is just a 5.2-inch screen based device!

As such, if you’ve a phone that has a 6-inch screen or larger, beware that your device could be a no-go on the affected flights. After all, these devices are bordering the size of a compact 7-inch or larger tablet that is clearly in the banned list.

Other large electronic devices that are on the banned list of the affected UK and US inbound flights are as follows:-

  • Tablets/e-Readers
  • Notebooks
  • Cameras
  • Portable media players with screens (e.g. DVD players)
  • Portable gaming units or portable consoles that are larger than a typical smartphone
  • Mobile printers/scanners

So take note and if you need these above devices in your affected flight, please pack them securely in your check-in luggage. We totally understand how unsettling this news is as baggage handlers have a shady internet reputation and certain airports are more prone to pickpockets/thieves preying on luggage. Times are tough and there’s little choice other than to obey the rules or don’t pack these items at all and get reasonable replacements at your destination itself.

Medical devices are exempted from the ban.


Which inbound flights to the UK and US are affected?

  Inbound flights from: Affected airports where flights depart: Affected airlines flying inbound:
Flying to the UK
  • Egypt
  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • ALL
  • ALL
Flying to the US
  • Egypt
  • Kuwait
  • Jordan
  • Morocco
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Turkey
  • UAE
  • Cairo International Airport
  • Kuwait International Airport
  • Queen Alia International Airport, Amman
  • Mohammed V Airport, Casablanca
  • Hamad International Airport, Doha
  • King Abdul Aziz International Airport, Jeddah + King Khalid International Airport, Riyadh
  • Ataturk International Airport, Istanbul
  • Abu Dhabi International Airport + Dubai International Airport
  • EgyptAir
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways
  • Kuwait Airways
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Royal Jordanian
  • Saudi Arabian Airlines
  • Turkish Airlines


Will I be affected if I’m transiting in these affected airports, countries and airlines?

In a word, yes.

So if you have any flight routes that have the last departure point that coincides with the above list of affected entry points, you would have to comply to the rules or change your flight plans altogether.


When will the ban be effective?

BBC’s source mentioned the directive would be effective from 25th March, Saturday. This seems to be applicable to both UK and US inbound affected flights.


Why are large electronic devices suddenly a target?

As per the statement issued by the US Department of Homeland Security:-

Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation and are aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items.


Why can’t I carry it onboard but it’s still acceptable to pack it into check-in luggage?

Should an explosion occur, the cargo hold is less susceptible to hull integrity damage than if it were to blow in the cabin – especially since there are windows and that is one of the weak points of a pressurized cabin.


Sources: BBC, The Sun,  The Telegraph (1) (2),  Evening StandardUS Department of Homeland Security

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