A statement posted on Royal Jordanian Airlines’ Twitter feed Monday prompted speculation that the US was about to issue a new set of security rules banning airlines flying between the US and certain Middle Eastern and African countries from allowing passengers to bring onboard electric devices, including computers, in their carry-on.
The tweet, posted March 20, said that “US departments” had issued instructions that from March 21, passengers on Royal Jordanian flights to and from the US would be “strictly prohibited” from taking onboard electronic devices. The tweet said the ban applied to laptops, tablets, cameras, DVD players and electronic games—all of which would need to be placed in checked baggage. “Cellular phones and medical devices needed during the flight are excluded from the ban,” the tweet said.
Royal Jordanian made no further comment on the tweet and placed nothing about the new rules on its website. However, the airline did delete the tweet after several hours.
Media reports quickly spread with rumors that the US was about to announce a new set of security rules targeted at airlines flying routes between the US and some African and Middle Eastern countries.
In response to a request for comment by ATW sister publication the Aviation Daily, a US Department of Homeland Security spokesperson responded by email, “We have no comment on potential security precautions, but will provide any update as appropriate.”
No other airlines had issued any statements or new passenger guidance by late afternoon Monday.
Such a rule would be difficult to enforce, almost certainly requiring secondary screening at the gate just before boarding for those airlines affected. It would also be very unpopular with passengers, who are normally advised to keep laptops and similar items with them for fear of damage or theft. Any such rule, if true and enforced, could be seen as potentially discriminatory if applied to some airlines and not others. It is also not clear why the electronic devices would be deemed a security risk in the cabin but not in the checked baggage hold.