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U.S. bans electronic devices on flights from 8 countries

by Brandon Russell | March 21, 2017March 21, 2017 10:45 am PDT

The Trump administration on Tuesday enacted a flight restriction that bars passengers headed to the U.S. from eight majority-Muslim countries from using electronic devices larger than a smartphone. That includes tablets, Kindles, cameras, laptops, and even Nintendo’s new Switch. It’s unclear how long the ban will be in effect.

According to officials briefed on the matter, the ban was levied as a precaution, not in response to a specific threat. Instead, officials claim extremist groups have “ongoing interest in staging attacks against American aviation targets,” The New York Times reported. In-flight crews aren’t affected by the restriction.

Foreign airlines from airports in Amman, Jordan; Cairo; Istanbul; Jeddah and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia; Kuwait City; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates are included on Trump’s list. Passengers flying on American-operated airlines won’t be affected by the ban.

The New York Times reports the Department of Homeland Security already uses preclearance techniques at  many airports, including Abu Dhabi, before passengers can board flights, confusing experts as to why a ban is necessary. Some officials at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) didn’t even know a ban was coming, suggesting the new rules were rushed out by the Trump administration.

No iPads, Kindles, laptops, or Switches

Although officials at Homeland Security say there’s no immediate threat, the TSA is reportedly on “heightened alert.” Passengers are still allowed to travel with electronic devices in checked luggage, while medical equipment is exempt from the ban.

All the gadgets made for travel are now banned, which will no doubt be a major inconvenience for travelers, especially those who are traveling for business. The Nintendo Switch would make for a fantastic companion on a 16-hour flight. Sadly, the device is no longer welcome in a plane’s cabin if you plan on coming to the U.S. on foreign carriers from eight majority-Muslim countries.

NYTimes

Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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