The U.K. recently joined the United States in banning airline passengers from bringing tablets, laptops, and other portable devices when flying from Muslim-majority countries. However, such devices are still allowable as long as they stay in the check-in luggage.
Recently, the United States deployed such banning for airlines coming from airports located in 8 Muslim-majority countries. For the U.K., the banning only applies to 6 airports. Some of these airports belong to Qatar, Doha, Dubai, and Istanbul.
The U.K. is also planning to include cell phones in the upcoming ban. The airports that will be affected by the cell phone ban are in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.
As of the moment, there is no definite date on when the ban will take effect. However, airports and airlines are already informed about the upcoming security changes.
According to a spokesman, the reason for the ban is in line with the same reasoning of the United States. According to the U.S. administration, the terrorists are still targeting commercial airlines to cause widespread panic. According to the "evaluated intelligence," the suspected terrorists are smuggling explosive components and devices within portable electronic devices such as laptops, tablets, and cellphones.
According to John Kelly, Secretary of Homeland Security, together with Huban Gowadia, acting administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, it is necessary to secure the safety of airline passengers even after the point of departure. They claim that the ban will serve the purpose for the needed enhanced security.
Also, there is no precise date on when the ban will be lifted. However, according to David Lapan, a Department of Homeland Security spokesman, the directive will run until October 14, and there's a possibility that it could be extended for another year if the threats are still present after future evaluations.
The officials are not able to provide specifics on the security threats. However, the officials did cite an incident involving a possible bomb explosion on a Somali plane, transiting from Mogadishu to Djibouti. According to the officials, there is a possibility that the source of the explosion was hidden in an onboard laptop.
According to some sources that are familiar with airline security, governments are concerned about a Syria-based terrorist organization that may have the capability to hide explosives under regular electronic devices. According to the source, such explosive devices are very hard to detect.
In 2014, the U.S. tightened airline security based on a report that hidden explosive devices are on the drawing board. However, according to a person familiar with the new restrictions, the said devices never moved past the design and planning stages due to technological limitations. Now, it's possible that the terrorists have moved along in the development.
In the future airline security restrictions, airlines that will be majorly affected are the ones coming from Middle Eastern airports. The new security measures entail that all personal electronic devices must be checked-in. No U.S. airline is affected by the ban as none has direct flights coming from the affected airports.