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Laptop ban quietly shut down

Paul Brislen, Editor. 19 July 2017, 7:58 am

The US government is quietly ending its ban on laptops in the cabins of airlines flying from the Middle East.

The ban had extended to fliers travelling on nine airlines from more than a dozen cities in the region and meant electronic devices larger than a cellphone were required to be checked in rather than taken on board. This was in response to security concerns around possible explosives, although several commentators wondered if it wasn't a way to stop business travellers using Middle Eastern airlines rather than American carriers.

This week, the US Transportation Security Administration removed its ban on Saudi Arabian Airlines, the last carrier to be caught out by new security requirements. Airlines are now given more time to upgrade bomb detection equipment and will step up monitoring for possible explosives.

The ban could have seen a radical change in the way business travellers move about the world. Working on long-haul flights is commonplace and with the US taking such a strong stance in March, other countries were considering following suit. Both the UK and Australian governments considered introducing similar measures and the New Zealand government announced it would look into the situation.

The move came on top of suggestions that the US would also crack down on travellers from certain parts of the world (the so-called "Muslim ban") and that border authorities would also be given powers to demand social media passwords (among other personal items) from travellers.

Most of these measures have now been either abandoned or wound back with only the travel ban still wending its way through the US court system.


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