Laptops and tablets are back in business on a number of international flights to the United States this week after four major airlines have received the all-clear from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
According to a report from CNN, Qatar Airlines was the latest to get the green light, following Turkish Airlines and Emirates earlier in the week, and Etihad Airlines last weekend.
The ease in restrictions was expected to take place immediately. It pertains to flights departing from a number of major airports in the Middle East and North Africa, including Hamad International Airport in Qatar, Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, and Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest airport for international travel.
Recent security assessments precipitated the move. Following the initial ban, in which laptops and tablets were not allowed in carry-on luggage on direct flights to the United States on 10 airlines at eight airports, the Department of Homeland Security issued new security rules and regulations that called for additional protections.
Some of these new rules reportedly were greater scrutiny of passengers entering the United States, enhanced screening of electronic devices, and better deployment of dogs that detect explosives.
Recent inspections confirmed that some of the airports had fulfilled the new requirements.
For the others, the U.S. laptop and tablet ban is still in effect. The CNN story indicated that as of Thursday morning, the ban still applied to U.S.-bound flights from six airports and five airlines that serve them.
Saudia, Saudia Arabia’s national carrier, is one such straggler. Multiple news accounts indicated the airline was expected to receive reinstatement by July 19, but DHS could not confirm that.
In coverage from Reuters, Turkish Airlines CEO Bilal Eksi was quoted as tweeting that his airline expected similar restrictions on flights to Britain would soon be lifted, as well. The British government had no response to these claims and has been relatively mum on the entire subject since the U.S. ban took effect.
The laptop and tablet ban was put into place earlier this spring to guard against the threat of an explosive device embedded in a piece of technology. Since then, Emirates and other airlines have developed gate-checking services and loaner laptop programs to keep travelers happy.