Now Britain BANS laptops on flights arriving from six countries including Turkey amid mounting fears over new terror tactics
- Britain imposes ban on laptops in cabin on flights from six countries
- Tougher rules come amid fears that extremists could use them to conceal bombs
- Move comes after US authorities place similar restrictions on arriving planes
Passengers on flights to Britain from the Middle East and North Africa face a ban on laptops and iPads amid fears over new terrorist tactics.Britain ‘to follow US in banning laptops
Tougher rules hitting thousands of holidaymakers and business travellers every day mean electronic devices larger than a phone have to be stored in the hold.
Baffled computer experts questioned the design of the new rules, suggesting a laptop bomb would be just as effective in the hold as in the cabin.
The move to beef up UK security – which comes into force immediately – will cover all direct flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia.
Travellers on flights from some Middle East countries are facing bans on laptops in the cabinBritain ‘to follow US in banning laptops
The ban covers all devices bigger than a smart phone – meaning even iPad mini and Kindles are excluded, alongside full size laptops
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: ‘Safety of the travelling public is our highest priority. That is why we keep aviation security under constant review and put in place measures that are necessary, effective and proportionate.
‘Over the last few weeks, PM has chaired a number of meetings on aviation security, most recently this morning, where it was agreed new measures will be introduced.’
The shake-up comes after America imposed similar but wider restrictions on flights from eight countries.
UK security sources have seen the same intelligence as their US counterparts and are responding to the perceived threat.
The arrangements have been in preparation for weeks, and are broadly similar to those introduced by America but not identical.
WHAT ARE THE NEW RESTRICTIONS?
The UK has imposed restrictions on flights originating from six mainly-Muslim countries.
The rules will cover all kit larger than 6.3 inches long, 3.6 inches wide and 0.6 inches deep.
That includes seven inch tablets such as the iPad Mini, as well as larger laptops.
The measures come into force immediately – but are not in response to a specific plot.
The US restrictions are similar but broader, covering eight countries. Lebanon is not on the American list the the UAE, Morocco and Qatar do feature.
The Department for Homeland Security said the procedures would ‘remain in place until the threat changes’, and did not rule out extending them.
The move is not thought to be in response to a specific plot.
The rules will cover all kit larger than 6.3 inches long, 3.6 inches wide and 0.6 inches deep. This covers all major smartphones but is smaller than an iPad mini or a Kindle.
The No10 spokesman said: ‘Under the new arrangements, passengers boarding flights to the UK from the countries affected will not be allowed to take any phones, laptops or tablets larger than a normal sized mobile or smart phone into the cabin of the plane.
‘Any such devices will need to be placed into hold luggage and checked-in before going through central security. Normal cabin baggage restrictions will continue to apply.
‘The additional security measures may cause some disruption for passengers and flights, and we understand the frustration that will cause, but our top priority will always be to maintain the safety of British nationals.
‘Direct flights to the UK from these destinations can continue to operate to the UK subject to these new measures being in place.’
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the Government was not currently advising against travel to the included countries.
He said: ‘We understand the frustration that these measures may cause and we are working with the aviation industry to minimise any impact.
‘Our top priority will always be to maintain the safety of British nationals.
‘These new measures apply to flights into the UK and we are not currently advising against flying to and from those countries.’
He added: ‘We remain open for business. People should continue to fly and comply with security procedures.’
Nicholas Weaver, researcher at the International Computer Science Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, told the Guardian: ‘It’s weird, because it doesn’t match a conventional threat model.
‘If you assume the attacker is interested in turning a laptop into a bomb, it would work just as well in the cargo hold.
UK BANS ELECTRONICS ON FLIGHTS
It was today confirmed travellers will not be able to carry anything bigger than a smartphone in hand luggage when arriving from eight destinations.
Fourteen carriers are expected to be affected by the ban – which does not apply to electronics in the hold — including Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airways, Atlas-Global Airlines, Middle East Airlines, Egyptair, Royal Jordanian, Tunis Air and Saudia.
In a statement, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “The UK has some of the most robust aviation security measures in the world and at all times the safety nad security of the public is our primary concern.
“We will not hesistate to put in place measures we believe are necessary, effective and proportionate.”
He added: “We understand the frustration that these measures may cause and we are working with the aviation industry to minimise any impact.”
There are intelligence concerns that extremists are plotting to hide bombs in laptops.
UNANSWERED LAPTOP BAN QUESTIONS
The Government announced today Britain would take similar measures to the US, banning laptops and tablets from inbound flights.
No 10 refused to detail the precise reasons why the ban was considered necessary, revealing only it was the result of several weeks deliberation.
The ban explicitly refers only to direct flights to Britain – leaving an obvious loophole for people who fly via other European hubs.
The US and UK bans also do not apply to exactly the same countries – and in some cases, direct flights do exist.
For example, the US will not allow laptops on flights from Casablanca, Morocco. There are direct flights to Britain from this airport and laptops are not banned.
Questions are also apparent about why laptops and tablets are being targeted.
A laptop bomb is suspected of blowing a hole in a plane from Somalia in February – succeeding in blasting the bomber out of the plane but not causing it to crash.
But it is not clear why laptops would be allowed in the hold rather than the cabin. It may suggest more detailed checks on luggage in the hold.
‘If you’re worried about hacking, a cellphone is a computer.’
The Emirates airline confirmed today it was implementing restrictions following a security directive from the US Transportation Security Administration.
The US Department for Homeland Security said the procedures would ‘remain in place until the threat changes’, and did not rule out extending them.
The US version restrictions apply to airlines flying direct to the United States from airports in Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Morocco and Qatar.
The airports affected are in Amman, Cairo, Kuwait City, Doha, Dubai, Istanbul, Abu Dhabi, Casablanca, Morocco, Riyadh and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Concerns were raised last year when insurgent group al-Shabaab smuggled an explosive-filled laptop on to a flight out of Mogadishu.
It blew a hole in the side of the plane, but the aircraft was still low enough that the pilot was able to land the plane safely.
The tougher rules come weeks after it was revealed that UK security services have foiled 13 potential attacks in less than four years, while counter-terrorism units are running more than 500 investigations at any time.
The official threat level for international terrorism has stood at severe, meaning an attack is ‘highly likely’, for more than two years.
Liberal Democrat transport spokeswoman Baroness Randerson said countries seem to have been ‘singled out based on religious beliefs’.
‘Of course safety is paramount at all times and we all need to remain vigilant but this ban needs to be explained in detail,’ she said.
British authorities have announced tougher rules on flights from six mainly-Muslim countries as early as this afternoon
‘Serious questions remain unanswered. Like why the Government think it will work and why are these originating countries are being singled out based on religious beliefs?
‘We have seen time and again that terrorism comes from some of the unlikeliest sources.’
Air industry consultant John Strickland warned that the ban will cause ‘headaches for airlines and customers’ but said carriers have ‘no choice but to put security first’ when official advice is given.
He added: ‘One unexpected consequence will be the challenge of additional devices with lithium batteries being stowed in the holds which brings its own challenges to safety.’
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.’
THE AIRLINES FACING DISRUPTION FROM NEW UK RESTRICTIONS
- British Airways
- Thomas Cook
- Turkish Airlines
- Pegasus Airways
- Atlas-Global Airlines
- Middle East Airlines
- Royal Jordanian
- Tunis Air