Saturday deadline for airline cabin ban on laptops and tablets
THE UK's cabin baggage ban on laptops and tablets must be implemented by Saturday, the Department for Transport (DfT) said.
It was announced on Tuesday that passengers will no longer be able to carry large electronic devices on inbound flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.
The ban covers devices larger than a typical smartphone and means that all bigger gadgets, including Kindles and other e-readers, will have to go in the luggage holds of aircraft.
A DfT spokeswoman said airlines have been told to implement the rules "over the coming days and no later than March 25".
She added that passengers "should go to the airport with the expectation that the measures are already in effect".
Low-cost airline easyJet said it introduced the new regime on its flights from Turkey and Egypt to the UK yesterday.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling told MPs in the Commons that the UK faces a "constantly evolving threat from terrorism and must respond accordingly".
Matthew Finn, managing director of aviation security consultancy firm Augmentiq, questioned why the rules only apply to some flights.
He said: "If there is indeed reliable intelligence of a credible threat that an improvised explosive device can be concealed within a consumer electronic device, then the question has to be how do we mitigate that risk for all aircraft leaving all destinations right across the board?"
The ban will theoretically stop a terrorist on an affected flight from physically triggering a bomb concealed in a laptop and would ensure any explosion takes place in the hold, away from other passengers.
Mr Finn suggested the regulations were not properly considered before being announced.
"Just banning a laptop from the cabin makes little sense if it's still available in the hold and could be detonated remotely using any manner of triggering device," he said.
The restriction covers any electronic device measuring 16cm (6.3in) by 9.3cm (3.7in) by 1.5cm (0.6in).
This includes laptops, e-readers and tablets, as well as some gaming systems and large smartphones.
The move was ordered by Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday in the latest of a series of meetings on aviation security, although it was not immediately clear whether the move was introduced in response to a general terror threat or a specific attack from the likes of al-Qaida.
It follows a similar measure announced on Tuesday by the US authorities affecting flights originating in a longer list of eight mainly Muslim countries.
UK airlines operating direct flights, which are being hit by the new measures are British Airways, easyJet, Jet2.com, Monarch, Thomas Cook and Thomson.
Overseas airlines affected are Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airways, Atlas-Global Airlines, Middle East Airlines, EgyptAir, Royal Jordanian, Tunis Air and Saudia.
Travel trade organisation Abta warned that laptops and tablets are not typically covered by travel insurance policies for loss, damage or theft if they are placed in the hold.
A spokeswoman for the organisation said: "Passengers travelling to the countries affected may wish to consider leaving their electronic devices at home, although this may be difficult for many, especially business travellers and families travelling with children."
Mark Shepherd, of the Association of British Insurers, said: "Passengers travelling from the affected countries with laptops and tablets should check their policy and speak to their travel insurer to double-check what cover they have for valuables placed in the hold."
He added that some travellers may have additional cover under a household contents policy for gadgets outside the home and that some insurers take a "flexible approach" to claims if a passenger has been forced to put items in the hold by circumstances out of their control.