UK electronics ban - everything you need to know

23 March 2017

Advice and tips on how to be prepared for the new UK flight electronics ban when travelling to Egypt, Turkey, Tunisia, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

UK Electronics ban items you can and cannot take in your carry on luggage
Electronic tablets, laptops and portable DVD players are now banned from all carry on luggage on all flights to the UK from Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan.

Flight restrictions on laptops and other electronic devices: what are the new rules?

New restrictions regarding electronic devices you can and cannot take with you to and from the UK on flights to certain countries are due to begin with immediate effect.

Here is our guide outlining the details of the electronic device restrictions, to help make sure you are fully prepared in advance next time you take a flight:

What are the airline restrictions on electronic devices - and why?

Intelligence linked to the possibility of increased terrorist threats has prompted the restrictions. 

This bans airline passengers - on specified airlines and on certain routes - from carrying laptops, tablet computers and certain other electronic devices on flights to and from the UK, and six Middle Eastern countries.

Related: What can I take on an aeroplane

Which six countries and which airline routes do these restrictions concern?

The named countries are Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. 

People travelling with laptops and tablet computers from all airports in these countries on flights to and from the UK must now have them stowed in the hold of the plane for the duration of the flight, after the usual security checks.

Which airlines do these restrictions affect?

The electronics ban will affect six UK and eight foreign airlines. 

The UK airlines affected are in-bound flights from the named countries on British Airways, EasyJet, Jet2.com, Monarch, Thomson and Thomas Cook. 

The same rules apply to people using Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airways, Tunis Air, Saudia, Egyptair, Middle East Airlines, Royal Jordanian and Atlas-Global Airlines.

What if your flight includes stopping in one of these countries?

The new rules still apply. These restrictions apply to the whole duration of the flight, including stop-offs. 

Restricted electronic devices must be checked into the hold of the plane for flights to and from the UK (and USA) which stop en route at the major international airport hubs of Dubai, Doha and Istanbul.

When do these restrictions actually come into force?

Almost immediately. Airlines are expected to be formally told in the coming days - and they must comply straight away.

So can you still take your laptop or tablet computers on flights with these airlines?

Yes you can, but you cannot have them with you as hand luggage in the cabin of the plane. 

Laptops and tablets (such as iPads, iPad Pro, iPad Mini 4 and Kindles) must be packed within your main luggage that is security-checked into the hold for the flight.

Why are laptops and tablets in particular being singled out?

Laptops are under particular scrutiny as a security concern after an incident in 2016, when a laptop packed with explosives on a flight from Somalia blew a hole in the side of a plane.

This new electronics ban has been sparked by US intelligence sources, who have raised warnings about the potential for terrorist groups to attempt to smuggle bombs hidden within laptops on to flights.

Why are laptops and tablets considered safe to travel in the hold and not in the passenger cabin?

Aviation experts have pointed out that items stowed in the hold are subject to extra levels of security scanning technology.

Apart from laptops and tablets, which other electronic devices are affected by the new restrictions?

The restrictions also include all handheld games consoles, portable DVD players and e-readers.

Which electronic devices can you still keep with you as hand luggage on these flights?

MP3 players, smartphones (providing they are no bigger than 16cm long, 9.3cm wide and 1.5cm deep), headphones, smartwatches and digital cameras can still be taken with you as part of your hand luggage.

But with digital cameras, it's important to remember that these are subject to certain restrictions, and they too must be no larger in size than 16cm by 9.3cm by 1.5cm.

It is also worth noting that the largest iPhone on the market, the iPhone 7 Plus, is within the size requirements of the ban and can still be carried as hand luggage.

Related: Must-have travel apps

So is the size of the electronic devices a factor in the new restrictions?

Yes, it is. Larger electronic devices have been targeted as a cause for concern. If you are unsure, check the size of your devices. 

And these are the dimensions to remember: included in the ban are all electronic devices which exceed 16cm by 9.3cm by 1.5cm.

What happens if I accidentally take the restricted electronic devices through to the airport security check?

The rules on this remain a little murky. But in such circumstances it is likely that you might have to pay additional fees to have your restricted devices checked in to the hold, should you wish to take them on your journey. 

So it's vital to think ahead and pack your devices according to the new restrictions.

But if in doubt, play safe and leave your larger electronic devices at home. And a good rule of thumb is this: if the device is bigger than a phone, you can't take it as hand luggage on flights with the airlines as detailed above.

Would insuring larger electronic devices cover the new airline restrictions?

Unfortunately, that might not be an option. And there is a greater risk of loss of, or damage to, expensive electronic devices when they are carried in a plane's hold. 

It is rare for travel insurance companies to include damage, loss or theft of items such as laptops and tablets within their insurance policies, according to travel trade body Abta.

It is, however, worth shopping around and checking the specific details of your travel insurance policy with your holiday provider or holiday insurer, which will inform your decision whether to take your electronic devices with you on your trip, or leave them at home.

"Saga Travel Insurance customers travelling back from the countries in question will be covered for a maximum of £600 per item and an overall total of £1,000, as long as any item is placed in a locked suitcase. " - Head of Saga Travel Insurance, Kevin McMullan

And if you're a business traveller, it's worth checking with your employer to see what their company policy is regarding theft, loss or damage to electronic devices, particularly if they are company property.

If you do take your larger electronic devices with you, make sure you pack them carefully in your main luggage; flat, switched-off (obviously) and with plenty of padding around them, such as clothes, cushions and bubblewrap, to minimise the chance of any potential damage.

A word from Saga Travel Insurance about the UK electronics ban

Head of Saga Travel Insurance, Kevin McMullan said: “It is important for people to check their travel insurance policies before travelling as insurers will, as standard, not generally cover damage, loss or theft of items such as laptops and tablets when they are carried in the plane’s hold.

"However, Saga Travel Insurance customers travelling back from the countries in question will be covered for a maximum of £600 per item and an overall total of £1,000, as long as any item is placed in a locked suitcase. 

"Customers should ensure that items are adequately protected from damage and the airline should be notified of any loss or damage as soon as possible."

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.