On Tuesday, March 28, 2017, I am going to be one of the first people in the world to fly from the Middle East to the United States under the new Middle Eastern laptop travel ban.
This is the second Middle Eastern travel ban to be implemented under the new US president. The first prohibited people from seven countries in the MENA region from entering the U.S. The second Middle Eastern travel ban prohibits people on flights from eight countries – Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Kuwait – on nine airlines, namely EgyptAir, Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, Kuwait Airways, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Turkish Airlines, from keeping laptops and tablets safely in the cabin of the plane with them and requiring instead that they be stowed under the plane inside checked luggage.
I am an American currently in Dahab, South Sinai, Egypt with my HP laptop. I was here when the Middle Eastern travel ban was announced on March 21 and when it went into effect on the 25th. In two days I am flying from Cairo to New York on Egypt Air.
Dahab is a lovely little town on the Red Sea. But it doesn’t really have proper packaging with which I can protect my laptop from damage. I am suprised I was even able to find a lock for my suitcase here. So I cannot properly prepare my laptop to survive this flight. I am just going to have to pack and pray.
I’ve read theories about the true reason for the ban, with most people agreeing it is probably not really for the purpose of preventing terrorism. But I haven’t read much about what people think might happen to their electronics once they hand them over to airport workers.
Maybe theft from luggage isn’t a thing in most of the world, but it is common in the U.S. And of course baggage handlers throughout the world are rough with luggage. Now that our valuable, easily breakable electronics will be taken from us at the airport, I think we can expect that a lot of people are going to be opening their suitcases at their destinations to find broken and missing laptops and tablets. Or maybe I’m pessimistic.
So I’ve made a video (a selfie video, to be precise) of how I’m packing my laptop for my trip with the rudimentary supplies I have here in Egypt. After I arrive at my home in the U.S., I will update this post to show the condition my laptop it is in after it’s been through Cairo International Airport and JFK Airport, if it is still in my suitcase.
So check back in later this week and see if my laptop survived the trip!
UPDATE 3/29/17: My laptop survived this trip. It arrived at my destination in my suitcase, intact and functioning perfectly.
The staff of Cairo International Airport and EgyptAir handled this sudden new law expertly.
I asked Moustafa, a security man at the airport, if I could have a lock or something to secure my suitcase, since the lock I bought in Dahab turned out to be too big to fit. He said I could wrap it in plastic after I checked in.
I checked in and told the man at the counter that I had a laptop in my suitcase. He immediately put a Fragile sticker on the suitcase. They then gave me my boarding pass, and I asked if I could go get my suitcase wrapped in plastic before checking it in. They said no problem. I went to the wrapping machine and paid 20 Egyptian Pounds (1 USD) to get it wrapped.
Back at the ticket counter I was allowed to cut in line to go to the front, where they put a sticker on my suitcase to get it to JFK in New York and then they put it on the conveyor belt. Done!
If you have to fly from the Middle East under the laptop ban, make sure you tell the person at the ticket counter that your laptop or tablet is in your suitcase, and make sure they take precautions to protect it.
What do you think about this latest Middle Eastern travel ban? Have you flown since it went into effect? If so, what happened? If not, do you think you will fly to the US or UK from the Middle East on a Middle Eastern airline under this travel ban? Or will it cause you to alter your plans?