US, UK banning electronic devices on some flights

Airlines impacted by Britain's cabin ban on electronic devices on flights from some Middle East and North Africa countries have until Saturday (Mar 25) to implement the measure, officials said Wednesday.

USA officials said the decision had nothing to do with President Donald Trump's efforts to impose a travel ban on Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. "We will work with the FAA to pull their certificate and they will not be allowed to fly to the United States", one senior USA official said.

Senior US administration officials said the rules were prompted by "evaluated intelligence" that terrorists continue to target commercial aviation by "smuggling explosives in portable electronic devices".

The British ban should come into effect "in the coming days", a Downing Street spokesman told the domestic Press Association news agency yesterday. The British ban includes smartphones, if they are larger than 16cm long, 9.3cm wide and 1.5cm deep, the BBC reports.

While the United States announced that they had given airlines 96 hours to inform travellers before the ban came into force at 3am (0700 GMT) on Tuesday, there was some confusion over when the British ban would kick in.

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The Department of Homeland Security spokesperson, David Lapan, said that the ban will be imposed till October 14 and could be further extended for another year if the "threat remains the same".

"We think these steps are necessary and proportionate", the United Kingdom government said. They created an alliance called "the five eyes". Both bans require the affected devices be checked and carried in the cargo hold.

Mobile phones and medical devices are permitted but larger items such as laptops, tablets, cameras and e-readers will need to be placed into checked-in baggage, ArabianBusiness.com reported the airline as saying in a statement.

USA officials would not say how long the ban will continue, saying only that it will be reevaluated on a regular basis.

Anyone who flies on an aircraft which starts its journey outside the six countries but which stops in one of those countries en route to Britain will have to stow their devices in the hold from the start of the first leg of their flight. It's not known why there is a discrepancy between the two lists, but transport secretary Chris Grayling, answering an urgent question on the issue in the House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon, said United States security measures were "very much a matter for them". The reason for the ban was not immediately clear.

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