View all newsletters
Sign up to our newsletters

Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Science & Tech
21 March 2017updated 05 Oct 2023 8:45am

Why is the UK banning laptops on flights from the Middle East?

Critics are questioning why the security measure only applies to airlines coming from the Middle East. 

By New Statesman

The UK has just announced a ban on electronic devices in carry-on luggage on flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. The ban is effective immediately.

The restrictions on devices such as laptops, tablets, DVD players, and some large phones follow in footsteps of a US ban affecting eight countries and nine airlines announced late Monday evening. Devices measuring more than 16cm in length, 9.3cm in width, or 1.5cm in depth will need to be checked-in to hold luggage. 

Why?

The US Department from Homeland Security cited “the 2015 airliner downing in Egypt; the 2016 attempted airliner downing in Somalia; and the 2016 armed attacks against airports in Brussels and Istanbul” as evidence that terrorist organisations are smuggling explosives inside electronic devices. A spokesperson from Number 10 stated that the UK have been “in close touch” with the US during the decision-making process.

Why now?

A government spokesperson says the restrictions have been implemented after Theresa May met with security officials this morning, after chairing several similar meetings over “the last few weeks”. It is likely that a specific security report inspired the ban, though no details on this have been made available.

Which airlines are affected by the UK ban? 

The UK airlines which are affected are : British Airways, EasyJet, Jet2.com, Monarch, Thomas Cook, and Thomson

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via spotlightonpolicy.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

Overseas airlines affected are: Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airways, Atlas-Global Airlines, Middle East Airlines, Egyptair, Royal Jordanian, Tunis Air, Saudia

Why predominantly Middle Eastern countries and airlines? 

It is not apparent why a measure ostensibly about safety has not been implemented universally, as with the liquids ban. If the measure was truly about security – and not simply security theatre – it would make sense for something that is considered dangerous by security experts to be banned worldwide.

So what really might be behind it? 

Apart from good old fashioned Islamophobia, Henry Farrell speculates in the Washington Post that Trump is attempting to bolster business for US airlines. Unlike in the UK, the US ban affects specific airlines, not just countries, meaning that US airlines not implementing the restrictions will gain new customers. 

As for the UK, Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport said the government are “working with the aviation industry to minimise any impact”. It is possible that the government recieved a credible security threat and are attempting to implement measures that don’t affect the majority of Britons. 

But will these measures be effective?

Critics note that any potential terrorists can merely change flight in a different country, or depart from a different country in the first place. 

Experts also argue that placing lithium batteries in checked backage is also dangerous, as they are a fire hazard. 

Evan Hill, a prominent writer about the Middle East, has also stated that the measures will put journalists’ personal and private information at risk, and therefore hinder reporting. 

Content from our partners
Unlocking the potential of a national asset, St Pancras International
Time for Labour to turn the tide on children’s health
How can we deliver better rail journeys for customers?

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via spotlightonpolicy.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU