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BLOG UK Electronics Ban Begins to Be Lifted for travels from Turkey

16 August 2017 / Travel

UK Electronics Ban Begins to Be Lifted

It's taken the best part of four months, but to great relief for many, the ban on carrying laptops, iPads and other electronic devices is now being slowly lifted, at the busiest time of the year for the UK-to-Turkey holiday season.

Here's a quick overview as to how the embargo first began in the US, spread to the UK and then slowly recycled back in the opposite direction. Thomas Cook and are among the latest UK carriers being allowed by the UK government to roll back the ban.

How the Laptop Ban Started

It was the Trump administration in the US that set the ball rolling in mid-March this year when it announced a blanket ban on all electronics bigger than a mobile phone from flight cabins. The first ban affected all flights out of Middle Eastern and Northern African nations, including Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Morocco.

US intelligence suggested bomb-makers affiliated to the terrorist organisation, Al Qaeda, had upped their game in the technology stakes by hiding bombs in consumer electronics, such as an iPad. Within 24 hours of the US ban, on March 28, the UK took steps to impose a similar one on electronics in passengers' hand luggage. The UK ban only targeted flights from six countries: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Tunisia.

Airlines affected by the UK ban included British Airways, EasyJet, Monarch, Thomas Cook, Thomson and Jet2. Flag carriers out of Turkey, including Turkish Airlines, Pegasus and Atlas, were also included on the list.


What did the ban mean in reality?

For passengers, electronics, such as laptops, tablets and e-readers, and anything bigger than 16x9.3x1.5cm had to be placed in the hold. A later extension to the ban saw external hard drives and power cable transformers being banned from the cabin, while spare batteries and portable power packs were banned from either cabin and luggage holds.

Since the main holiday flying season had begun to Turkey, numbers suggest upwards of 10,000 passengers a day were affected. Flyers, checking in electronic devices were also advised to check their insurance policies because usually companies recommend passengers keep valuables in the cabin with them.

How is the ban enforced?

Passengers on return flights out of the affected countries have to check-in electronic devices before progressing through a security check. A more intensive search is then made at the gate where hand luggage is inspected and electronics contravening the ban put in the hold.

Those flying in transit through the likes of Istanbul can consign their devices to the hold at the beginning of a trip. Alternatively, as in the case of Turkish Airlines, hand over the device, and it will be stored in a sealed case, before being returned to the passenger at a special desk in baggage reclaim at the arrivals lounge.

What has happened since?

Since the ban was imposed, passengers flying from these countries had to come up with innovative ways to ensure their electronics are not damaged when placed in the hold. The ban also split the aviation industry who were also concerned about the notable slowdown in passenger traffic on airlines and countries affected by the ban. Likewise, concerns were raised about the risks of uncontrolled fires by lithium batteries in the cargo holds of planes, but it appears that during the prohibition no particular episodes have been reported.


What happened next?

The US announced July 20 it was lifting the ban after its officials travelled to ten airports across the affected areas, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to ensure that new stringent security measures had been imposed. Turkish Airlines revealed that during the 102-day ban it had safely collected 81,736 electronic devices and carried them on 1,087 US flights. More than three-quarters were laptops and tablets.

UK-Turkey ban is lifted

The UK began lifting the electronics embargo soon afterwards in a systematic fashion. Turkish Airlines and Pegasus, based in Istanbul, announced the ban had been lifted on flights from Istanbul and Izmir from the UK, and passengers could now take their laptops for the ride.

As of August 2, Easyjet confirmed that, in line with UK Government advice, the security restrictions on electronic devices (PEDs) had been lifted on its flights from Turkey.

"This means that on our flights from Turkey customers will be able to take their electronic devices into the cabin. The devices may be subject to extra security measures and need to be fully charged when getting to the airport."

In recent days, Thomas Cook and Jet2 have also announced similar bans being lifted for passengers flying Turkey to the UK. Jet2 added that customers "will be able to take devices into the cabin with them on any of their flights to the UK from Antalya, Bodrum and Dalaman.

However, the electronics ban stays in place with, for example, Thomas Cook flights from other countries on the list. For more updates, passengers can log onto the Department for Transport page

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