The Transportation Security Administration has announced that by 3 AM EDT on March 25, 2017, passengers on flights to the United States from 10 specific airports will be required to check any electronic devices larger than a smartphone. The affected airports are all in North Africa and the Middle East, and include some of the most frequently used airports among international business travelers.  As a result, employees who might otherwise plan to work on the plane will be limited to those tasks that can be performed either from their phones or on paper.  Employers should communicate these restrictions to employees who travel internationally so they can be better prepared.

Which Airports Are Affected?

Flights to the United States from the following 10 airports are covered by the new security measures:

  • Queen Alia International Airport (AMM) – Amman, Jordan
  • Cairo International Airport (CAI) – Cairo, Egypt
  • Ataturk International Airport (IST) – Istanbul, Turkey
  • King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED) – Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • King Khalid International Airport (RUH) – Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • Kuwait International Airport (KWI) – Kuwait City, Kuwait
  • Mohammed V Airport (CMN) – Casablanca, Morocco
  • Hamad International Airport (DOH) – Doha, Qatar
  • Dubai International Airport (DXB) – Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

These security measures affect flights for which the last point of departure is any of the above airports. This includes direct flights from these airports to the United States, as well as flights originating from other airports that connect at these airports.  Flights operated by U.S.-based carriers are not affected by these measures.

Who Is Affected?

All passengers on commercial flights from the affected airports must comply with these security measures. This includes U.S. citizens and foreign nationals, alike, even if the passenger is enrolled in trusted traveler programs such as TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry.

What Devices Are Prohibited?

With the exception of necessary medical devices, all electronic devices larger than a smartphone must be secured in checked luggage. They will not be allowed in the passenger cabin of the aircraft.  Examples of affected devices include laptops, tablets (such as iPads), e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, some electronic game units, and travel printers/scanners.  Smartphones, MP3 players (such as iPods), and some other handheld electronic devices will be permitted onboard.

When Will the Restrictions Go into Effect?

Airlines must begin complying with the new restrictions by March 25, 2017. These procedures will remain in place “until the threat changes,” as determined by the TSA and other relevant Department of Homeland Security authorities.

Additional Notes

Notably, shortly after the TSA announced these new restrictions, the United Kingdom announced similar measures for flights to the UK. Passengers flying to the UK from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia should expect to face these restrictions.  Additionally, the Canadian government has announced that it is considering implementing similar measures.

Companies with employees who travel internationally should stay apprised of these new security restrictions so they can alert their employees of these new measures.