Laptop, Tablet Ban on Flights to Hit Indian Techies Hard

In a move to combat terrorism threats, the US and UK governments have announced restrictions on carrying electronic devices such as laptops and tablets in cabin baggage coming from Muslim-majority countries in the Middle-East and North Africa. This will hit Indian techies who fly to US or UK for work.

laptop ban on flights
US and UK governments have announced laptop ban on flight

The US and Britain on Tuesday imposed restrictions on carrying electronic devices such as laptops and tablets on planes coming from Muslim-majority countries in the Middle-East and North Africa in response to terrorism threats.

The moves were prompted by reports that militant groups want to smuggle explosive devices inside electronic gadgets.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said passengers traveling from Cairo; Istanbul; Kuwait City; Doha, Qatar; Casablanca, Morocco; Amman, Jordan; Riyadh and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in United Arab Emirates would not be permitted to carry devices such as tablets, portable DVD players, laptops and cameras in their cabin baggage.

The move is likely to hit Indian techies hard. Many fly to US via Gulf region. Dubai is a major transit hub for US and Europe-bound flights. They may now opt for a transit either in Germany, France or England. Those flying to West Coast of the US may go through Kaulalumpur, Singapore or Hong Kong.

Hours after US announced its decision, the UK too followed with the restriction on Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey countries.

Reports stated the move would be implemented by March 25 and will remain until October of this year.

The move comes two months after US President Donald Trump banned people from seven muslim countries to enter the USA.

Many Indians, including CEOs, travels via Dubai to San Francisco and Los Angeles on work regularly. Emirates and Etihad are their preferred airlines. They may now be forced to look at other airline options.

It’s a 14-hour flight to San Francisco or Los Angeles and many techies spend most of that time working on thier laptop or watch movies.

The biggest gainers of this ban may be British Airways, Lufthansa or Singapore Airlines though many fliers say none of them are as good as Etihad or Emirates.

The new US rule applies to ten airports in eight countries in the Middle East, including the Dubai International Airport that has emerged as a major transit hub for Indians travelling to the US, including for many IT professionals from cities like Bengaluru.

The bigger concern for many is about the possible theft and damage to their gadgets if those go into checkedin baggage. Check-in baggage worldwide are badly handled and with this ban, Who is going to be responsible for damage?

Raj Shankar

Shankar Raj is a senior journalist with more than 30 years experience, mostly with The Indian Express and The New Indian Express. He was the Editor for Karnataka and Kerala editions of The New Indian Express, and former Managing Editor of the Nyusu Digital Media P Ltd. Bengaluru.

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