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The One Thing You Need to Add into Your Phone Before Traveling Abroad

Looking up your destination’s emergency phone number isn’t a standard vacation-planning step. But the old adage of “it’s better to be safe than sorry” rings true —no one who finds themselves in an emergency situation abroad expects it to happen to them. We’re all familiar with 911 in the U.S., but what number do you dial when you’re in a foreign country? Emergency numbers around the world aren’t something you want to be trying to figure out in the midst of extreme danger.

It only takes a few minutes to find the number that may save your or someone else’s life, thus making it the one thing you should be adding to your phone before a trip abroad. Consider it part of your itinerary research process.

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Emergency Numbers Around the World

Here are some popular English-speaking destinations’ emergency numbers around the world, and how to find any other ones you need.

  • Australia uses 000, and New Zealand uses 111.
  • Canada and Mexico use the North American standard of 911, as do all American territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands) and much of the Caribbean including Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Bonaire, Belize, the Cayman Islands, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Turks and Caicos.
  • The European Union has created a universal number of 112. Several non-E.U. countries in Europe, including Russia and Switzerland, have also adopted the 112 standard. Outside of the E.U., India also uses 112, as well as South Korea. However, in South Korea, use 1339 for medical emergencies; this number is specifically for foreigners in Seoul.
  • Jamaica uses 110 and 119.
  • The Philippines uses 166 and 177.
  • Japan uses two numbers: 119 (ambulance and fire) and 110 (police).
  • South Africa seems to be the only English-speaking country to use more than three digits: 10177 and 10111.
  • The United Kingdom uses both 999 and the 112 E.U. standard.
  • In Hong Kong, the emergency number is 999.
  • Brazil uses 190 for police, 192 for ambulance, and 193 for fire.
  • China uses 110 for police, 120 for ambulance, and 119 for fire.

In non-English-speaking countries, there’s no guarantee the operator will speak English. However, the Department of State provides a list of emergency numbers around the world (organized alphabetically)—and it’s a good idea to have your destination’s number saved regardless.

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Once you have the number for the country you’re visiting, take the time to store it in a place that’s easily accessible (such as your mobile device), but you should also remember it in case your phone isn’t readily available in an emergency. Even if you do have your phone handy, you’ll be able to dial the number faster if you know it by heart rather than fumbling through your contacts and wasting precious time. It only takes a minute, and it really is better to be safe than sorry.

As a back-up to the 911 equivalent, consider saving the nearest U.S. Embassy’s direct and/or emergency line into your contacts. This could be helpful in less urgent emergencies, like a lost passport or an evacuation situation—each of which could require official assistance.

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Editor Shannon McMahon is a former news reporter who writes about all things travel. Follow her on Instagram @shanmcmahon.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2008. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

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Health & Wellness Security Travel Trends

Does Travel Insurance Cover Terrorism?

Given recent headlines, you might wonder: Does travel insurance cover terrorism? And the short answer is, “Yes, but…” with some important variables in that “but.”

Most trip-cancellation or interruption travel insurance includes “terrorism” as a named peril and a “covered reason” for benefits when you might want to cancel or change a trip to a destination that suffers an attack. But whether and how insurance covers you for terrorism depends on two important elements in the insurance policy’s fine print: How the insurer defines “terrorism,” and what kind of “terrorism” event triggers coverage. These critical details can vary from policy to policy.

Does Travel Insurance Cover Terrorism? It Depends on Your Definition of ‘Terrorism’

Surprisingly, the big travel insurance issuers are not in lockstep about defining “terrorism.” A random check of policies from the main insurers reveals some major differences. Several companies define terrorism simply as “an incident deemed an act of terrorism by the U.S. Department of State” or a rough equivalent. But other companies modify that with extra requirements.

Many policies require that the terrorism event be committed by “a person acting alone or in association with other persons on behalf of or in connection with any organization of foreign government which is generally recognized as having the intent to overthrow or influence the control of any other foreign government.”

Many travel insurance policies specifically require a State Department official warning for American travelers not to travel to the destination country or city suffering a terrorist attack. Some policies exclude “civil disorder.” Some require that the terrorism event result in loss of life or major property damage in order to be eligible for travel insurance coverage.

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Two factors stand out in the fine print for the question of whether travel insurance covers terrorism or a terrorist attack. Almost every travel insurance policy requires formal recognition by the U.S. State Department that an attack is defined as an act of terrorism. But in some cases, the act has to be traced to an organization or individual having an intent to overthrow the control of some government. Either factor could presumably deny coverage in cases many of you would consider to be “terrorism.” And “civil disorder” can often look a lot like terrorism.

Travel Insurance and a Terrorist Attack: What Triggers Insurance Coverage?

As with definitions, policies vary somewhat in how they describe an event that triggers coverage. Several travel insurance policies simply require a “terrorist incident that occurs within 30 days of your scheduled departure date in a city listed on the itinerary of your or your traveling companion’s trip.”

But many include more specific limitations and variations about how travel insurance covers terrorism.

A few policies reduce that 30-day time limit to 14 or even seven days. A few add that travel insurance coverage for a terrorist attack is valid only if a destination city had not suffered an attack within the past 30 days. The standard “in a city” statement is pretty vague, too. Some travel insurance policies specify geographic limits, saying the terror attack must have occurred within  a 50-mile or 100-mile radius of a city on your itinerary.

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A few travel insurance policies deny coverage for terrorism if your travel supplier offers a substitute itinerary. And some shift the condition of a government announcement to this portion of the contract.

Travel Insurance and Terrorism: The Take-Away

All in all, trip insurance coverage for a terrorist event can vary substantially among different issuers. Some travel insurance issuers incorporate varying language in different policies. Some low-cost travel insurance policies do not cover terrorism at all.

Clearly, if you’re interested in cancellation or interruption travel insurance that covers terrorism, you have to compare policies carefully. The typical online insurance-comparison search systems generally don’t allow filters for the degree of detail you might want. Instead, you have to look at the “details” or “full policy” pull-downs for each policy for the information you need.

Alternatively, if you want a definitive answer to the question of whether your travel insurance covers terrorism, you can pay extra for cancel-for-any-reason coverage (ranging from terrorism to weather to illness to missing a connecting flight) and leave the go/no-go decision entirely up to you.

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Consumer advocate Ed Perkins has been writing about travel for more than three decades. The founding editor of the Consumer Reports Travel Letter, he continues to inform travelers and fight consumer abuses every day at SmarterTravel.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2016. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

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Booking Strategy Budget Travel Travel Trends

That NRA Travel Discount? Check, It Might Be Gone

If you’re a member of the National Rifle Association, you may have gotten accustomed to enjoying member discounts from a number of prominent travel suppliers. If you check today, you’ll find that most of those NRA partner companies are no longer listed on the NRA website.

The change closely follows February 14, the day a teenage gunman killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle that was purchased legally.

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That horrific event triggered an outpouring of anti-NRA sentiment, which has led to widespread cancellations of corporate marketing relationships with the NRA.

Delta and United are among the highest-profile travel suppliers cutting ties with the NRA. They tweeted over the weekend as follows:

@Delta Delta is reaching out to the NRA to let them know we will be ending their contract for discounted rates through our group travel program. We will be requesting that the NRA remove our information from their website.

@united United is notifying the NRA that we will no longer offer a discounted rate to their annual meeting and we are asking that the NRA remove our information from their website.

Delta, for its part, later issued a news release fully elaborating on its actions:

Delta’s decision reflects the airline’s neutral status in the current national debate over gun control amid recent school shootings. Out of respect for our customers and employees on both sides, Delta has taken this action to refrain from entering this debate and focus on its business. Delta continues to support the 2nd Amendment.

Other travel suppliers that have severed their ties with the NRA in the past few days include Hertz, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, National, Alamo, Wyndham, and Best Western.

Ever the combative organization, the NRA pushed back against the departing corporations, accusing them of a “shameful display of political and civic cowardice.”

Let it be absolutely clear. The loss of a discount will neither scare nor distract one single NRA member from our mission to stand and defend the individual freedoms that have always made America the greatest nation in the world.

For all the finger-pointing and flag-waving, as things stand today, the only thing that’s changed is the loss of a handful of travel discounts.

Reader Reality Check

Tempest in a teacup, or something bigger?

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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.

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Airport Booking Strategy Security

TSA PreCheck Now Available at 5 More Airlines

The Transportation Security Administration today announced the addition of five new airlines to its TSA PreCheck trusted-traveler program. They are Air France, Brussels Airlines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Philippine Airlines, and World Atlantic.

The additions bring to 47 the number of airlines participating in the program, including all major U.S. carriers. (There’s a full list here.)

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PreCheck travelers may leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belts, and keep laptops in their cases and 3-1-1 compliant liquids in carry-ons when clearing security in designated screening lanes.

To enroll in PreCheck, travelers pay an $85 application fee and must undergo an in-person interview at one of TSA’s 380 application centers, or at one of 1,400 IdentoGO mobile processing centers.

Once approved as a low-risk traveler, flyers are entitled to use TSA PreCheck lanes for five years at 200 U.S. airports when flying on participating carriers.

With full flights and travel’s generally high hassle factor, anything travelers can do to make flying less stressful is worth a look. And PreCheck delivers. For example, in November 2017, including part of the congested Thanksgiving travel period, the TSA claims that PreCheck flyers cleared security checkpoints in less than five minutes 93 percent of the time.

While PreCheck can be a time- and aggravation-saver, as intended, the service is not without its critics, who cite the cost and two-step application process as deterrents to many would-be participants. Notwithstanding such quibbles, more than 4 million flyers now participate in PreCheck.

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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.

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Health & Wellness Security Travel Trends

New Disney Policy Puts Security Over Privacy

The “Do Not Disturb” sign is a ubiquitous part of the hotel-stay experience. And many would argue that it’s essential to a restful stay. After all, who wants to come out of the shower to find a housekeeper tidying up your room?

But beginning with three properties on the monorail line to Disney’s Magic Kingdom—the Grand Floridian, Polynesian, and Contemporary resorts—the Disney company has begun replacing “Do Not Disturb” signs with “Room Occupied” signs.

The big change, however, isn’t the wording on the hang tags; it’s the policy change that the new verbiage reflects. According to Walt Disney World News Today, “it will now be required that a Disney employee enter their hotel room at least once a day to ensure guest safety.” To that end, the hotels’ revised terms of service now include the following:

The hotel and its staff reserve the right to enter your room for any purposes including, but not limited to, performing maintenance and repairs or checking on the safety and security of guests and property.

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Disney hasn’t explained the reasons for the new policy, but the prevailing theory is that it’s linked to the October mass shooting in Las Vegas, where a lone gunman opened fire from his room at the Mandalay Bay hotel, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more. Daily room checks will presumably reduce the chances of such massacres’ recurring.

I’ve so far not received a response to my query to Disney’s P.R. team for clarification on the company’s rationale for the change, and how Disney customers have responded to the change. Regarding the latter, however, there’s already a decidedly mixed response in Disney-related chat rooms, such as MouseOwners.com. A sampling:

Not a fan of this. I refuse housekeeping when I stay at a hotel because I don’t want staff in my room.

The Do Not Disturb sign means you do not want to be disturbed. Period. We don’t want housekeeping in the room when we are out either.

Not happy. I do not like people in my rooms ever.

I think it’s bull****. Room inspections are for prisons, boarding schools, and psychiatric hospitals.

We go to Disney to relax… not to be checked up on.

My room is my oasis. We are quiet, leave the place clean, and never disturb anybody. I will admit people and make it available on MY schedule. Not anybody else’s.

Notwithstanding the negative feedback from customers, Walt Disney World News Today expects the new policy to be rolled out to other Disney World Resort Hotels “in the coming weeks.” Thereafter, it might well be adopted by other hotel chains, eventually becoming the new industry standard.

Reader Reality Check

Is Disney going too far in sacrificing privacy for 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.

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Airport Security

TSA Testing Scanning Cameras to Find Concealed Explosives

The TSA is experimenting with new scanning cameras that can detect concealed explosives on travelers as they walk by. The TSA, along with local law enforcement, is testing the new devices at a busy metro station in Los Angeles and in railway hubs in Washington, D.C.

In a statement, the TSA said the cameras “identify [metallic or non-metallic] objects that block the naturally-occurring emissions emitted by a person’s body.” This triggers an alarm so law enforcement can locate, isolate, and inspect the individual. Devices like this offer a passive security measure, in contrast to the hands-on approach airport travelers know all too well.

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“Along with industry partners, we are committed to identifying, testing and deploying technology that addresses threats to transportation across the spectrum,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said. “We need to innovate and evolve faster than the adversary, and more importantly, deploy technology ahead of the threat-curve.”

Most people likely associate the TSA only with airport security, but the agency also handles security at major ground transportation hubs. As we all saw in New York City recently, these facilities are just as crowded but less-secured than airports,making them appealing to would-be attackers.

That said, technology like this makes perfect sense for use in pre-screening areas of airports as well. Attackers have targeted these areas as well, and for the same reasons as bus and train terminals. Cameras positioned both outside and inside those areas could be effective in pre-empted a devastating attack.

Readers, would the presence of devices like this make you feel safer? Do you worry about false positives? Let us know in the comments below.

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Airport Security

New Security Interviews for U.S.-Bound Flights Could Mean Longer Lines

Flying to the U.S. from abroad? Get ready for potentially longer check-in times and new security measures. Effective this week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will increase scrutiny on electronic devices travelers bring onboard.

DHS announced it would be heightening security measures back in June, after months of speculation that large electronic devices like laptops would be banned from aircraft entirely. Fortunately, that never materialized, and DHS instead announced some new, general procedures aimed at increasing security:

  • Enhancing overall passenger screening;
  • Conducting heightened screening of personal electronic devices;
  • Increasing security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas; and
  • Deploying advanced technology, expanding canine screening, and establishing additional preclearance locations.

Now, after giving airlines 120 days to prepare, the measures go into effect.

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DHS was deliberately vague when it announced the new measures in June, but it now appears the “enhanced overall passenger screening” includes traveler interviews. Multiple airlines said travelers should expect short interviews at check-in, security, or the gate, regardless of whether they are traveling with bags or not.

“As we move forward, TSA will continue to work closely with our aviation partners and verify that all security enhancements are accurately implemented,” TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein told USA Today. “As threats continue to evolve, we and our partners around the world, will continue to work together to improve intelligence sharing and standardize best practices, while also pursuing technological advancements that will make flying more secure for everyone.”

Coincidentally or not, the new security procedures arrive during a period of decline in travel to the States. Last month, the New York Times reported there were 700,000 fewer international visitors during the first quarter of 2017. European countries were down 10.1 percent, while Middle Eastern and African countries were down even more. The current administration targeted the latter group through several travel bans, not to mention the aforementioned electronics ban. Adding new, time-consuming procedures certainly doesn’t seem likely to help reverse that trend.

Readers, have you encountered any new security measures while traveling to the States? If and when you do, tell us about your experiences.

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Booking Strategy Health & Wellness Island Security Travel Trends

U.S. State Department Issues Cuba Travel Warning

Since diplomatic relations with Cuba were reinstated and a newly liberalized U.S.-Cuba aviation agreement was enacted last year, travel between the two countries has been a decidedly up-and-down affair.

U.S. airlines initially mis-forecast demand for Cuba travel, and launched far more flights than the market could support. Several carriers have since cut back on their Cuba flight capacity, or withdrawn completely from the Cuba market.

Then, in June, President Trump threatened to reverse the Obama administration’s conciliatory policy and reinstate sanctions and an embargo, further undermining enthusiasm for travel to Cuba.

And the latest blow to a resumption of unfettered travel between the two countries: On September 29, the U.S. State Department issued a Travel Warning, prefaced as follows: “The Department of State warns U.S. citizens not to travel to Cuba.”

This is not, at least ostensibly, a politically motivated ban. Rather it is based on a series of mysterious attacks suffered by U.S. diplomatic staff in Cuba. According to the State Department statement:

Over the past several months, numerous U.S. Embassy Havana employees have been targeted in specific attacks. These employees have suffered significant injuries as a consequence of these attacks. Affected individuals have exhibited a range of physical symptoms including ear complaints and hearing loss, dizziness, headache, fatigue, cognitive issues, and difficulty sleeping.

Accordingly, government employees and their families have been ordered to leave Cuba, pending the Cuban government’s discovering the source of the attacks and preventing further occurrences. U.S. leisure travelers are also at risk, the Department warned: “Because our personnel’s safety is at risk, and we are unable to identify the source of the attacks, we believe U.S. citizens may also be at risk and warn them not to travel to Cuba.”

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For American travelers who remain in Cuba, the State Department recommends apprising family and friends in the U.S. of their whereabouts, and keeping in touch with their travel agency and hotel staff.

For the latest updates on the attacks and travel warning, consult the Havana Embassy website.

Reader Reality Check

While the attacks are creepy and unsettling, they haven’t been life-threatening. And so far, they’ve targeted diplomatic staff exclusively. Will you let the warning deter you from visiting Cuba?

More from SmarterTravel:

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.

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Airport Booking Strategy Budget Travel Frequent Flyer In-Flight Experience Luxury Travel Travel Trends

Recap: The Week’s Biggest Travel Stories and Best Deals

Following is our regular summary of the latest travel news and best frequent traveler promotions reviewed during the past week.

If it was a good deal—or a notably bad deal—from an airline, hotel, or car rental loyalty program, you can read all about it here, and plan your travel accordingly.

Laptop Ban Lifted for Middle East Flights to U.S.

The controversial laptop ban, in place since March, was lifted this week for all nine affected airlines and 10 Middle East airports.

Hilton Follows Marriott with Harsher Cancellation Policy

Hilton will follow Marriott in imposing a 48-hour cancellation policy beginning July 31. The harsher rule can now be considered the industry standard.

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Somebody has to win this trip, right? Might as well be you.

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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.

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Airport In-Flight Experience Security Travel Trends

Laptop Ban Lifted for Middle East Flights to U.S.

That laptop ban that was once the subject of so much rancor and debate? Gone, but not soon to be forgotten.

The ban, initially covering nonstop flights by nine airlines 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.

Since then the list of banned airlines has been shrinking as the carriers improved their security-screening procedures and received approval from 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.

In early July, Royal Jordanian and Kuwait Airways became 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, following in the footsteps of Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, Dubai-based Emirates, Doha-based Qatar, and Istanbul-based Turkish Airlines.

Then, on July 12, Egyptair announced that its nonstop flights from Cairo to the U.S. had been approved. The next day, Royal Air Maroc’s flights from Casablanca, Morocco, were exempted from the ban as well.

That left only Saudia’s nonstop flights to the U.S. from two airports, Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. And those restrictions were lifted yesterday.

According to a Tweet by a DHS representative: “With enhanced security measures in place, all restrictions on large PEDs (personal electronic devices) announced in March for 10 airports/9 airlines have been lifted.”

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The ban was 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 flights to the U.S., rather than flying on the restricted nonstops.

With the ban lifted, flyers from the affected airports can again look forward to the comfort and convenience of traveling with their laptops and other electronic devices.

Reader Reality Check

Did the ban make you feel safer?

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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.

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Active Travel Airport Booking Strategy Budget Travel Frequent Flyer Security Travel Trends

Recap: The Week’s Biggest Travel Stories and Best Deals

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End of Laptop Ban in Sight: Only 1 Airline Still Affected

The laptop ban, once the subject of so much rancor and debate, is fading fast and may disappear completely within a week.

The ban, initially covering nonstop flights by nine airlines 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.

Since then the list of banned airlines has been shrinking as the carriers improved their security-screening procedures and received approval from 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.

Over the weekend, Royal Jordanian and Kuwait Airways became 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, following in the footsteps of Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, Dubai-based Emirates, Doha-based Qatar, and Istanbul-based Turkish Airlines.

Then, on July 12, Egyptair announced that its nonstop flights from Cairo to the U.S. had been approved.

And today, July 13, Royal Air Maroc’s flights from Casablanca, Morocco, have been exempted from the ban as well.

The ban remains in place for nonstop flights to the U.S. from two airports: Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. But although 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.”

So by the end of next week, if not sooner, the ban on U.S. flights may be over. A ban on personal electronics on flights to the U.K. from several Middle East countries remains in effect.

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The ban has been 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 will soon be moot. Which means more comfort and convenience for flyers, if not more security.

Reader Reality Check

Did the ban make you feel safer?

More from SmarterTravel:

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.

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Airport Booking Strategy Health & Wellness In-Flight Experience Security

Laptop Ban Fading as 2 More Airlines Receive Exemptions

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.

[st_related]Is TSA Missing 95% of Banned Items at Security?[/st_related]

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.

Reader Reality Check

Did the ban make you feel safer?

More from SmarterTravel:

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.

[st_newsletter]

Categories
Booking Strategy Budget Travel Frequent Flyer Health & Wellness In-Flight Experience Passenger Rights Travel Trends

Recap: The Week’s Biggest Travel Stories and Best Deals

Following is our regular summary of the latest travel news and best frequent traveler promotions reviewed during the past week.

If it was a good deal—or a notably bad deal—from an airline, hotel, or car rental loyalty program, you can read all about it here, and plan your travel accordingly.

Four Airlines See Laptop Ban Lifted

That laptop ban that’s been the subject of so much debate and hand-wringing? It’s making a slow fade into oblivion as more airlines are exempted.

Hyatt Diminishes Transparency, Opens Door to Sky-High Award Prices

When Hyatt added a new resort to its list of award options, it amended its terms and conditions to allow it to increase award prices willy nilly. Ouch!

Is TSA Missing 95% of Banned Items at Security?

A recent test found that the TSA’s success rate in detecting banned items at security checkpoints was a dismal 5 percent.

American, Alaska Air Frequent-Flyer Partnership Unravels

Beginning next year, the frequent-flyer relationship between Alaska Air and American will be a lot less robust. Details here.

‘Unsafe, Uncomfortable, Unfair’ – United’s New Tagline?

United’s recent string of highly publicized blunders and misdeeds has made a mockery of the carrier’s longtime tagline, “Fly the friendly skies!”

How Much Would You Pay to Have an Empty Seat Next to You?

How much would you pay to have the coach seat next to you empty? Middle East carrier Etihad Airways is about to find out.

Uber Changes Course, Adds Tipping Option to App

Uber this week did the unthinkable: The world’s dominant rideshare company reversed its long-held no-tipping policy. Great for drivers; less so for riders.

Win a 5-Day Trip to Iceland, Including Business-Class Air

Enter to win a five-day trip for two to Iceland, including business-class air, airport transfers, hotel, one dinner, helicopter and snowmobile tours, swag.

Somebody has to win this trip, right? Might as well be you.

More from SmarterTravel:

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.

[st_newsletter]

Categories
Airport Booking Strategy Health & Wellness In-Flight Experience Security Travel Trends

Four Airlines See Laptop Ban Lifted

That laptop ban that’s been the subject of so much debate and hand-wringing? It’s making a slow fade into oblivion.

Today, Qatar Airways announced it had been approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to allow passengers to resume carrying onboard their personal electronics devices when flying to the U.S. from the carrier’s Doha hub at Hamad International Airport.

Qatar is the fourth airline to receive the DHS’s blessings to allow U.S.-bound flyers to bring their laptops and other devices with them into the passenger cabin. The three carriers already approved include Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, Dubai-based Emirates, and Istanbul-based Turkish Airlines.

[st_related]Is TSA Missing 95% of Banned Items at Security?[/st_related]

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.

The ban remains in place for nonstop flights to the U.S. from six airports: Amman, Jordan; Kuwait City; Cairo; 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, if not more security.

More from SmarterTravel:

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.

[st_newsletter]