The laptop ban, once the subject of so much rancor and debate, will soon be nothing more than a footnote to the history of aviation security, as the number of affected airlines and airports approaches zero.
Over the weekend, Royal Jordanian and Kuwait Airways were added to the list of airlines approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to allow passengers to resume carrying onboard their personal electronics devices when flying nonstop to the U.S. from the carriers’ respective flight hubs.
Royal Jordanian and Kuwait were the fifth and sixth airlines to receive the DHS’s blessings to allow U.S.-bound travelers to fly with their laptops and other devices. The four carriers already approved include Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, Dubai-based Emirates, Doha-based Qatar, and Istanbul-based Turkish Airlines.
The ban, initially covering nonstop flights to the U.S. from 10 Middle East airports, was imposed in March, presumably in response to intelligence suggesting that terrorists planned to hide explosives in the personal electronics devices of flyers traveling to the U.S.
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The ban remains in place for nonstop flights to the U.S. from four airports: Cairo, Egypt; Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and Casablanca, Morocco.
Although as yet unconfirmed by U.S. security officials, Saudia, the flag carrier of Saudi Arabia, said it expects Jeddah and Riyadh to meet DHS screening standards and be excluded from the ban “on or before July 19.”
The ban itself remains the object of considerable controversy, with critics lambasting the policy as neither necessary nor effective. In particular, it’s been pointed out that terrorists can easily avoid the ban by utilizing connecting flight to the U.S., rather than flying on the restricted nonstops.
With the affected airlines and airports rushing to upgrade their security screening to meet DHS requirements, the controversy and the criticism may soon be moot. Which means more comfort and convenience for flyers, if not more security.
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.