In the wake of the USA announcing a flight ban on electronic items over a certain size being allowed in cabin baggage from eight predominantly Middle Eastern countries, the UK government has followed suit, initiating a cabin baggage ban on everything bigger than a smartphone on direct passenger flights to Great Britain from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.
A Downing Street spokesperson said the move followed talks on air security and was ‘necessary, effective and proportionate’, while US officials were more direct and said bombs could be hidden in a series of devices.
Unlike the US flight ban, which is decidedly hazy on exactly what falls under the restriction, the UK has announced size limits – the ban will apply to any device larger than 16cm long, 9.3cm wide or 1.5cm deep. This means laptops, tablets, DVD players, games consoles, e-readers, cameras and even certain larger smartphones will fall foul of the ban. Any affected device will now need to be stowed into hold luggage.
A government spokesperson said it was up to individual airlines to decide when to begin enforcing the flight ban restrictions. The UK companies affected are British Airways, EasyJet, Jet2.com, Monarch, Thomas Cook and Thomson, and overseas carriers are Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airways, Atlas-Global Airlines, Middle East Airlines, EgyptAir, Royal Jordanian, Tunis Air and Saudia.
It is not known how long the restrictions will stay in place, but at the end of the day, safety has to come first, and the UK government is hardly likely to have made such a decision without good reason.
Stay calm and carry on travelling!
This announcement will be yet another blow to the already struggling tourist industry in Egypt, and social media has already erupted with divers complaining about having to put their precious cameras and laptops into their hold baggage, but Scuba Diver’s photo guru Paul ‘Duxy’ Duxfield had some sage advice on how best to deal with the flight ban situation.
“If you're on a phototrip, and still require your laptop/iPad, suck it up and pay for an extra bag. Place your laptop in a large sandwich bag from Ikea – sealable and surprisingly waterproof – and then put in a snug neoprene sleeve or bubble wrap, and finally inside a hard corrugated plastic document case available from your local stationers,” he said. “This is a very lightweight (and cheap) option that provides a lot of protection.”
He continued: “Place this bundle into your hold bag within a cocoon of clothes or wetsuits. I've done similar for strobes/camera for dozens of trips, with no harm so far. I would advise you keep your original data cards, USB sticks and portable hard drive backed up with your pictures and/or Time Machine on you.
“No fuss really and quite achievable. Take sensible precautions, pay extra insurance if you need to, and weigh up what you consider to be a proper cost/benefit scenario.”