Dealing with the DHS ban on electronics in the cabin

ipad miniSo, wow. Big news coming out in the last 24 hours. Today the DHS is expected to announce a ban of electronics larger than a cell phone in the cabins of certain US-bound international flights. Larger electronics such as laptops can be placed in checked baggage, and cell phones and medical devices will still be allowed in cabins.

Update (11:30am CDT): Evidently the UK is implementing a similar ban.

Who is affected?

The following airports and airlines are included in the ban, via CNN Money.

The airports affected are: Cairo, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Istanbul, Doha,  Amman, Kuwait City, Casablanca, Jeddah, and Riyadh.

The affected airlines are those that operate direct flights to the US: Egyptair, Emirates, Etihad, Kuwait Airways, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian, Saudi Arabian Airlines, and Turkish Airlines.

What does this mean for business travelers?

Obviously there  are a number of concerns that jump out to business travelers. For most people who travel for work a laptop is a requirement for any trip. Most frequent travelers don’t trust airlines to keep track of their clothes, much less their confidential business information. Even if an airline doesn’t lose your suitcase, checked bags are often targeted by thieves all around the world. And of course, it’s quite possible you will  need to actually get some work done during the 15-45 hours of transit.

Possible solutions

So what is a business traveler supposed to do an international trip? It’s not like you can stop traveling until the ban is lifted. And who knows if that will ever even happen? (We still can’t carry on liquids more than 3 oz 15 years later….) Here are some suggestions for dealing with the TSA ban on electronics.

  • Don’t fly those routes. It may sound obvious, but the simplest solution is to avoid flying the affected airlines or routes. If there is a way to fly to the US without going through the impacted countries or by routing through other countries first, that would be ideal even if it takes a bit longer. The only flights affected are direct to the US from those cities, so routing through another airport like Heathrow would allow you to avoid the ban. Update: The UK is implementing a similar ban, so routing through Heathrow won’t help.
  • Don’t bring your laptop. Easier said than done, I know. But if you can’t avoid the ban it would be ideal if you can leave your laptop at home. Bring any documents you need on a flash drive and use a loaner laptop when you arrive at your final destination. Depending on your circumstances it may even make sense to bring your laptop on your trip and have it shipped home.
  • Use your phone for work. Again, it’s not ideal. But with an external keyboard it’s certainly possible to use your phone for basic functions like word processing and emails. It may make sense to buy a larger phone for your trip to make this easier.
  • Back up everything. If you end up checking your laptop make sure that everything on there is password-protected and backed up in case of loss or theft.

There are plenty of questions still–exactly what size of electronics are allowed? Is a small tablet okay, such as an iPad Mini? What about eReaders? As more information is released I will update this page with recommendations.

Readers, do you anticipate being affected by the ban? Will you check your laptop?


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  1. You do realize that the TSA is strictly internal to the US, and that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the division of the US Government that the TSA falls under, correct? The TSA did not dictate this event, DHS did.

  2. And what about that external keyboard?

    It is certainly an electronic device of dimensions than a phone.


    I start the morning by saying “DAMAGE REPORT!” before my SO fills me in on the latest idiotic thing.

  3. No, you can’t take anything beyond a phone. That includes phablets and Kindles.

    I don’t believe this is a security action – it’s designed to knobble the ME3 airlines and somehow the UK got sucked into it. Those people with the means will simply shift their business to other airlines/routes, giving a massive advantage to legacy carriers, who’ve been complaining about the ME3’s state support and cheap fuel for years.

    Trump protectionism.

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