International
US officials are placing restrictions on passengers' carry-on items for some flights from the Middle East and North Africa, starting Tuesday.
Mathieu Marquer/ Flickr

The ban by the US government on passengers carrying large electronic items on certain US-bound flights is expected to target eight Middle Eastern and North African countries.

The block is likely to go into effect on Tuesday, but many details about the new policy remain unknown.

A US official told Reuters news agency the rule has been under consideration since the US government learned of an unspecified terrorist threat several weeks ago. The source continued by saying the rule covers 10 airports in eight countries across the Middle East and North Africa, including those based in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. No other countries were initially named. No American airlines are due to be affected by the upcoming ban.

CNN aviation editor Jon Ostrower saved a since deleted tweet from Royal Jordanian Airlines that stated: "Prohibited devices, including for instance laptops, tablets, cameras, DVD players and electronic games … etc., can be carried in the checked baggage only. This announcement is effective starting March 21, 2017, and the instructions will be applied on the New York, Chicago, Detroit and Montreal flights, the last two destinations served by a combined flight."

Mobile phones and medical devices would still be allowed as carry on items, according to the tweet.

"Al Riyadh" newspaper, a pro-government Saudi newspaper, confirmed the ban would affect flights out of its main airports, and its civil aviation authority informed "airlines flying from (Saudi) airports to US airports of the latest measures from US security agencies in which passengers must store laptops and tablets" in checked baggage.

David Lapan, spokesman for the US Department of Homeland Security, said the agency has "no comment on potential security precautions." The White House declined to comment on the electronics ban.

Passenger turbulence ahead

Some analysts expect headaches for people boarding flights. Aerospace science professor Jeffrey Price of Metropolitan State University of Denver said there would be problems for passengers being forced to put their electronics in their checked luggage. He argued that theft of electronics from baggage would increase, pointing to such a trend following a similar ban in Britain in 2006.

Price also noted that some laptops are equipped with batteries that can catch fire - but that such events are difficult to detect if laptops are stowed in the cargo hold.

(This article was first published on DW. You can read the original article here.)