The UK government has followed the US in banning all electronics larger than a smartphone from the cabin of flights originating in selected Middle Eastern countries.

The UK government has confirmed it is following the US in banning electronic devices larger than a smartphone from selected flights originating in Middle Eastern countries, a move Transportation Secretary Chris Grayling MP has positioned as 'necessary, effective and proportionate.

Following an announcement by the US government earlier this week, the Department for Transport has confirmed that the UK will be immediately implementing a plan to ban any and all electronic devices larger than a smartphone from cabin luggage and person effects permitted on flights originating in Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Tunisia – meaning an end to the ability to carry a laptop, tablet, or even an eReader into the cabin for a distraction or work purposes while travelling.

'In conjunction with our international partners and the aviation industry, the UK government keeps aviation security under constant review,' Transportation Secretary Chris Grayling MP has claimed in a statement to Parliament on the matter. 'The UK has some of the most robust aviation security measures in the world and at all times the safety and security of the public is our primary concern. We will not hesitate to put in place measures we believe are necessary, effective and proportionate.'

The new rules require that any electronic items carried into the cabin by passengers from the selected nations measure less than 160mm in length, 93mm in width, and 15mm in thickness – meaning that while an iPhone 7 Plus at 158.2mm x 77.9mm x 7.3mm would be permitted, an iPad Mini at 200mm x 134.7mm x 7.2mm would not. If the purpose is to prevent a large enough battery to cause a severe fire or even explosion is the unspoken reasoning behind the ban, then there is some bitter amusement to be found in Samsung's notoriously explosive Galaxy Note 7 – itself the subject of private bans from aircraft owing to faulty batteries spontaneously combusting – falls into the acceptable size window at 153.5mm x 73.9mm x 7.9mm.

'We understand the frustration that these measures may cause and we are working with the aviation industry to minimise any impact,' Grayling claimed in his statement on the matter. 'Our top priority will always be to maintain the safety of British nationals. I know the House will recognise that we face a constantly evolving threat from terrorism and must respond accordingly to ensure the protection of the public against those who would do us harm. The update we are making to our security measures is an important part of that process.'

The ban joins existing general rules from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), applying to all flights, which bans spare – i.e. not presently installed – lithium-ion batteries from being checked into the hold and allows for only two batteries with a capacity ranging from 100Wh to 160Wh to be carried per person.

Details on the ban can be found on the Department for Transport's website.

 

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