Electronics ban: tips and advice for buyers

This week both the US and UK issued a ban on large electronic items in hand luggage on flights from certain countries.

With many experts predicting the ban will remain in force for months rather than days and weeks, travel and security risk firm International SOS, has provided some advice for travel buyers on the details of the ban and what it could mean for your travellers.

Will other countries impose similar restrictions?

Other countries may follow suit in the coming days.  Canada announced it had received information from the US and was analysing it for potential action.

Is this related to the US Executive Order banning some travelers from Iran, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen?

The US and UK stated there is no connection between this restriction and the EO.  Both governments are said to have intelligence indicating that terrorist organisations are actively attempting to smuggle bombs onto aircraft disguised as large electronics. Although neither government will disclose information about a specific threat, they cite an incident in Somalia last year where terrorist group al Shabab attempted to take down an airliner using a laptop bomb.  The bomb blew a hole in the aircraft, but the plane was at such a low altitude the pilot was able to land safely.  The measure is similar to one enacted in 2014 that resulted in some airports requiring passengers to turn on electronics to prove they were not dummy devices.

Do the restrictions apply to checked baggage?

The restrictions only apply to electronics in hand luggage.  Large electronics must be checked in bags.The UK restriction includes laptops, cameras, e-readers and tablets and any devices exceeding 16 cm in length, 9.3 cm in width and 1.5 cm in depth

UK & US ban on large electronics on-board inbound flights:

Will this be a long term or short term measure?  

This will most likely be a long-term measure.

What scale of disruption can be expected?
It will no doubt cause inconvenience – delays at security possibly, particularly in the short term as travellers may not be aware of the new restrictions, and in case people turn up at UK and US ports of entry with restricted devices.

Is this likely to deter business travel to and from Middle Eastern destinations? 

There’s no real reason why it should, but that doesn’t necessary take individuals’ reaction into account. If a business traveller feels they absolutely cannot be on a flight without their laptop or iPad they might consider re-routing from an unaffected airport on the way to the UK or US; but this could also potentially lengthen a journey and result in wasted business hours. 


We’re advising clients to make sure their mobile workforce travelling from the affected airports are aware of the new regulations so that they arrive at the airport with electronic equipment appropriately stored in hold luggage.  Also, allow additional time for check in at the affected airports of origin as the new restrictions may cause delays at security.

Read reaction from the business travel sector on the ban

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