The ban by the US on electronic devices onboard flights from 10 Middle East and North African airports has now been in place for close to two months.
And as expected, the process for passengers flying to the US [with large electronic carry-on devices] remains time-consuming and complicated.
During a recent trip to the US from Dubai, we experienced first-hand the implications of the ban on passengers.
Here’s what you have to be prepared for –
First, you are likely to be asked at the entrance to the gate area whether you are carrying any large electronics. If your answer is yes, you are given a tag and asked to join a line at the gate seating area downstairs.
Point to note – there could be an up-close and personal inspection of your carry-on luggage, so be prepared for security personnel to rummage through all your belongings.
Also, while the ban doesn’t specifically apply to alkaline batteries, ours were confiscated at the counter. So it might be better to avoid carrying any batteries.
Moving on, along with your electronic device you will also have to handover your ticket.
You will then be ushered to the electronics check-in area.
Prepare yourself for long queues as ground personnel label each box [with the device] before arranging all of them in a line. The boxes are then picked up one by one and each passenger is called to confirm the contents of the box and see it wrapped and sealed before being given back their ticket. Our experience was this process took more than 40 minutes after arriving at the gate about an hour before departure.
Next, after landing in the US, do not directly proceed to the bag carousel as there is a desk specifically for electronics collection.
Again, gear up to spend some time at the counter since it can take a while for your box to be returned to you. This process again can take more than 40 minutes, depending on how quickly you get through immigration, so it may be worth booking a longer connection.
Reflecting back on the experience, we agree with IATA’s director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac, who said in March that the restrictions were creating commercial distortions.
While there is certainly justification for the implementation of these measures in the interests of security, the current system doesn’t seem to be working as intended and could easily have the effect of putting people off travelling to the US altogether.