Six Middle Eastern airlines said they are no longer subject to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s laptop ban, which originally covered non-stop flights to the U.S. from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa.
Just this week Royal Jordanian and Kuwait Airways announced they were out from under the ban. Late last week, Etihad said it had met DHS’s stringent new security inspection standards so that passengers on its flights from Abu Dhabi to the U.S. would no longer have to put their laptops and tablets into their checked baggage, or check them at the gate. Also Emirates, Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways say their U.S. flights are no longer subject to the ban, effective immediately.
Large Middle Eastern carriers had responded to the ban by offering “loaner” laptops to their business and first class customers, and by allowing passengers to gate-check their electronic devices on U.S.-bound flights. Turkish Airlines said that during the 102 days when it was subject to the ban, it collected almost 82,000 devices from passengers; three-fourths of those were laptops and tablets.
Last week, DHS officials said that the U.S. could extend its laptop ban to flights from any of 280 airports worldwide unless airlines met strict new security standards that include more sophisticated explosive trace detection scanning for passengers’ carry-ons, greater use of bomb-sniffing dogs, and more intensive screening of airport workers and even passengers themselves.
But the agency also said airlines and airports currently facing the laptop ban could have it lifted if they met the new standards – which some of them are now doing.
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