US, Britain Ban Laptops, Electronics on Flights from Some Nations

    21 March, 2017

    The United States and Great Britain, citing unspecified threats, have banned larger electronic devices on direct flights from several nations in the Middle East and North Africa.

    The new rules prevent passengers from carrying on personal electronic devices larger than a mobile phone. This includes laptops, tablets, electronic games, cameras and DVD players. The barred items must be placed in checked baggage.

    The ban applies to direct flights to the United States from 10 airports in mainly Muslim nations. The new rules will affect about 50 flights a day to America of foreign air carriers.

    The list includes international airports in Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

    Workers service an Egyptair flight at International Cairo Airport, Egypt May 21, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
    Workers service an Egyptair flight at International Cairo Airport, Egypt May 21, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

    An announcement by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said the ban resulted from unspecified "evaluated intelligence." The intelligence showed that terrorist groups are continuing to target major world airlines, according to a department statement.

    Terrorists "are aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks," it added. One possible method for attackers is to "smuggle explosive devices in various consumer items," the statement said.

    Britain also announced limits on carry-on electronic devices on direct flights from six countries.

    A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said the rules would be in effect at airports in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. Passengers carrying electronics bigger than a mobile phone will have to place the devices in checked baggage.

    "We think these steps are necessary and proportionate to allow passengers to travel safely," the British spokesman said.

    There was no change in policy covering electronic devices carried on flights departing from or operating within the United States.

    The DHS increased some security measures for international passengers coming to the U.S. in 2014. The stronger screening methods included a requirement for passengers to power up their phones and other electronic devices.

    DHS Secretary John Kelly has said U.S. officials are considering additional measures intended to prevent dangerous people from entering America.

    One proposal is for border agents to ask visitors arriving from certain countries to unlock phones and provide social media account information and passwords.

    I'm Bryan Lynn.

    Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from the Associated Press and Reuters. Hai Do was the editor.

    What do you think about the new ban on some electronics aboard planes? Write to us in the Comments section, and visit 51VOA.COM.


    Words in This Story

    baggagen. cases and bags used when people travel

    evaluate – v. judge how valuable or effective something is

    innovativeadj. using new methods or ideas

    smuggle v. move something from one country to another secretly and illegally

    consumer - n. person who buys or uses goods and services

    proportionate - adj. affecting things at an equal rate to keep the same relationship between them

    screenv. examine something to decide if it is suitable for a particular purpose