MIAMI – Yesterday, the United Arab Emirates announced that the United States has lifted the electronics ban from all flights departing Abu Dhabi. The electronics ban was initiated in March and instructed nine foreign airlines in the Middle East and North Africa to ban large electronics from aircraft cabins.
Abu Dhabi is the first airport to lift the U.S. electronics ban. Etihad Airways remarked that the exemption came following “enhanced security measures” at the airport, although no specifics were given:
We welcome the decision by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to lift the electronic devices ban on flights between Abu Dhabi and the United States, following the successful validation of security measures at the U.S. Preclearance facility at Abu Dhabi airport earlier today [July 2, 2017]. Effective immediately, the removal of the restrictions allows passengers flying to the U.S. to carry all laptops, tablets, and other electronic devices onto the aircraft, subject to enhanced security measures.
We would like to thank our guests for their understanding and loyalty while the ban was in place.
The ban was lifted after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security confirmed they met tighter security standards put in place last week, as reported by CNET in an email:
This approval is verified with visual confirmation by TSA officials ensuring the measures have been implemented correctly and to the full extent required. Following the initial visit, TSA officials will resume their regularly scheduled visits to observe operations. At this time, only Etihad Airways has had PED restrictions lifted. The other airlines and airports announced in March remain under the restrictions.
The initial electronics ban enacted in March affected travelers flying nonstop to the U.S. from 8 countries (Egypt, UAE, Turkey, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia). The United Kingdom joined the U.S. in banning large electronics in the cabin on flights from most of these countries, with the UAE and Qatar excepted.
However, the European Union declined to join the U.S. and U.K. in banning cabin electronics from those countries. In May, there were rumors about a ban expansion into all flights from Europe to the U.S.
Even though it wasn’t confirmed, Secretary Jhon Kelly said no expansion was announced but that it “is still on the table.”