US Lifts Laptop Ban on Flights From Middle East Airports

The United States lifted its ban on airplane passengers bringing laptops aboard the cabin from a number of airports in the Middle East, after ending the restriction for the last airliner remaining on the list.

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authorities informed national carrier Saudia that the ban had been lifted after a US team inspected security measures at airports in Riyadh and Jeddah, the airline’s spokesman Abdulrahman al-Taieb said.

Saudia, also known as Saudi Arabian Airlines, was the last carrier to have its ban lifted.

Washington in March barred all electronic devices larger than a cellphone in the cabins of direct flights to the United States from 10 airports in Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa, only allowing them in hold luggage.

The ban was instituted after intelligence officials learned of efforts by jihadis from the Islamic State terror group to manufacture a bomb that could be hidden inside such devices.

Washington had said it would abolish the ban for companies that implemented new safety measures.

The decision to end the laptop ban came as the US on Wednesday implemented new restrictions on travelers flying to the US from nearly 300 international airports, including those in Mexico and Canada, which will now subject passengers to stepped-up security measures that include stricter screening for electronic devices larger than cellphones.

The regulations could include asking passengers to present larger electronic devices for inspection and prove that they can be powered on.

The Department of Homeland Security Department demanded last month that airlines around the world step up security measures for international flights bound for the United States or face the possibility of a total electronics ban for planes.

The deadline for some of those changes to take effect was Wednesday.

Airlines and aviation authorities responded by warning passengers to expect longer security screenings at airports.

“Enhanced screening measures are in effect,” read an alert on the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority’s website.

It said that passengers flagged randomly for additional screening will be asked to remove electronic devices from protective cases for inspection, and possibly show they can be powered on.

Mexico’s aviation authority advised passengers on flights bound for the US to arrive at the airport three hours early to comply with the new screening measures.

Toronto-based Porter Airlines, which operates numerous flights a day between the US and Canada, informed frequent travelers of the new security measures in an email Wednesday.

The new rules apply to roughly 180 foreign and US-based airlines flying from 280 airports in 105 countries.

The Department of Homeland Security says more than 2,000 international flights land in the United States each day.

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