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Royal Jordanian Airlines Bans Use of Electronics After US Voices Security 'Concerns' (theverge.com) 109

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Royal Jordanian airlines banned the use of electronics on flights servicing the U.S. after government officials here expressed concerns. Details are scant, but CNN is reporting that other carriers based on the Middle East and Africa may be affected as well. The news broke when Royal Jordanian, a state-owned airline that operates around 500 flights a week, posted this cryptic notice on its Twitter feed. The ban, which includes laptops, tablets, and video games, but does not include smartphones or medical devices, is effective for Royal Jordanian flights servicing New York, Chicago, Detroit, and Montreal. A spokesperson for Royal Jordanian was not immediately available for clarification. Meanwhile, CNN is reporting that Royal Jordanian may not be the only carrier affected by these new security provisions. Jon Ostrower, the network's aviation editor, just tweeted that as many as 12 airlines based in the Middle East and Africa could be impacted. A Saudi executive also tweeted that "directives by U.S. authorities" could affect passengers traveling from 13 countries, with the new measure set to go into effect over the next 96 hours.
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Royal Jordanian Airlines Bans Use of Electronics After US Voices Security 'Concerns'

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  • Oh, shucks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ugen ( 93902 ) on Monday March 20, 2017 @04:56PM (#54077107)

    This probably has nothing to do with the fact that several middle-east based carriers have been consistently highly rated by passengers and, with their top notch service and low fares luring plenty of international travelers away from legacy US carriers.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This probably has nothing to do with the fact that several middle-east based carriers have been consistently highly rated by passengers and, with their top notch service and low fares luring plenty of international travelers away from legacy US carriers.

      Ummm, seriously dude?

      You might be referring to Emirates or Etihad airlines.

      This is Royal Jordanian, which is a completely different class of airline.

      • Re:Oh, shucks (Score:4, Interesting)

        by fisternipply ( 215177 ) on Monday March 20, 2017 @07:31PM (#54078335)

        The direct Dreamliner flight from JFK (and back to ORD) is actually quite nice. Wish they went back to JFK though. Most of RJ's long haul fleet are Dreamliners and it's a nice airplane. On-board staff are friendly and accommodating. Jordan is not a fundamentalist Islamic country where the women cover their heads and say nothing. The royal family are very progressive and people in Jordan are pretty normal.

      • by ugen ( 93902 )

        The article refers to 13 (as of yet undefined) middle eastern airlines. Given that there are not that many out there, if there indeed is 13 on the list, both Etihad and Qatar will have to be there.

    • by jbwolfe ( 241413 )
      ...and even less to do with how their governments heavily subsidize these airlines creating enormous competitive advantages over US flagged carriers.
  • by Lisandro ( 799651 ) on Monday March 20, 2017 @05:05PM (#54077183)

    Seriously, what the living fuck?

    • Well, if you are not from 6-7 countries, things really haven't changed all that much.. Even then, currently there is no difference despite what the news is telling you.

      • by Lisandro ( 799651 ) on Monday March 20, 2017 @05:40PM (#54077477)

        Doesn't work that way. I travel to the US regularly for business and the current recommendation is not to carry smartphones or computers with you; i'd normally dismiss horror stories on US borders as bullshit except i have a number of coworkers who were asked for their laptop passwords by customs officers in the past few months.

        It hasn't been my experience (yet), but it is incredible that we have to follow the same considerations as if we were traveling to North Korea in that regard.

        • Traveling to PRNK is nothing like the USA, you will be free to take pictures in most locations, we won't have "minders" with you 24/7 making sure you don't drift off the authorized path... We don't kill you for crossing the border illegally..

          I don't consider all the stories BS, but I do consider the reporting of them to be over blown. (your complaint is a case study in that actually, comparing the USA to North Korea is a way into hysteria you know.)

          Consider the security situation from the USA's perspecti

          • I suggest two things.. 1. You are making more out of this than their really is.. 2. IF you don't like the rules, you don't need to come here.. And don't give me some sob story about it being your job because what that is saying to me is you are being PAID to endure all this pain you claim, which makes it doubly shallow if you ask me.

            I am not. I'm not comparing life on PRNK to the US, but the fact that getting your electronic devices searched on the border is a true concern when traveling to both. I don't honestly know how common this is, but i can tell you for a fact that it is happening right now. And it sucks.

            Also, sorry but the "if you don't like the rules..." argument is utter bullshit. Of course i don't like the rules; they make no sense at all. There is no reason whatsoever for a borders officer to ask for your laptop/cellphone p

          • by Plammox ( 717738 )
            Aaaaand let's forget all about how searching and copying the contents of foreign business travellers' laptops actually eases the NSA's burden of providing US companies with "business intelligence"...
  • Figured.

    It was my first guess, after a manual trigger using depressurization switches in plastic tubes.

  • Do they not understand that Montreal is in a different country?

    • by b0bby ( 201198 )

      Montreal/Detroit is a shared flight.

    • by green1 ( 322787 )

      The USA hasn't actually figured out that the world is made up of different countries at all. They think it's all the USA, just some parts don't get to vote.

  • by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Monday March 20, 2017 @06:10PM (#54077771)
    Jordan is one of the few beacons of hope in the Middle East - An American ally that is peaceful and provides a real example of what a mideast success story could be (if you haven't visited Jordan I encourage it - Great country).

    But sure America, go and screw with them, because FREEDOM.
    • It really is about the only place an American could go to safely experience Arab daily life, culture, and history, along with meeting nice people and eating fantastic food. It is a (fragile) island in a sea of crazy violence, and if Jordan falls it will be yet another massive tragedy in the Middle East.

  • checked baggage damage / stolen laptops not covered or they only payout $200 for a damaged $2000+ apple laptop?

  • Mooslims must fly nekkid.
  • Out of all those electronics, they let smartphone go? If they're going to ban, they should've at least ban smartphone.

    At least doing so make us proud when we use Etch A Sketch on the plane... how to turn this thing off again?

  • by wisebabo ( 638845 ) on Monday March 20, 2017 @09:41PM (#54079047) Journal

    Based on the fact that they allow certain (small) electronics, as another posted noted it may be some sort of physical attack.

    Maybe someone has figured out to (expertly) disguise small explosives as batteries? I don't know how current X-ray technologies (in the airport) work but maybe they can't easily distinguish between a lithium ion battery and an explosive? So if you were able to package them in the same volume and then wire them so that they "look" on the scanner like batteries then they would pass that review.

    While it might be possible to detect this alteration by asking the passenger to prove that they are, indeed, unaltered electronic devices by turning them on, I can image a decent electronics guy could leave in one small battery so it could be powered on briefly (it would probably have to be wired differently to provide the necessary voltage). In addition this would cause the (already long?) delays to become longer as passengers would have to open them and boot up the devices (and afterwards shut them down and repack them). I think there may be neutron(?) based scanners that can detect the nitrogen compounds in explosives but I believe they are large and very expensive and would again add delays.

    What's interesting is that (so far) this is not a worldwide prohibition but thankfully (at least for people not planning on traveling to and from the middle east/africa) restricted to just that area. So the ability to do this possible physical "hack" is only for now in the middle east and they only think people heading to the U.S. (and not say Europe) will use it. It must by some pretty specific intel to generate this kind of warning. Maybe the security measures/machines in that part of the world are not capable of reliably discriminating these attacks. Then again some restrictions, as other posters have mentioned, only apply to travel to the U.S., for example at Taipei's airport you must go through an additional screening step when on flights bound to the U.S. so perhaps it's just due to more heightened security awareness/paranoia on the American end.

    • It has nothing to do with an attack. The US sent a directive to a bunch of carriers based in the Mid-East and Africa that said any flights coming into or going out of the US had to fly with those restrictions. It doesn't apply to other carriers going to those places and I'm guessing it applies to those carriers going to other places. It appears to be more of a business attack to help out US airlines rather than anything based on safety.

      That's based on the limited amount of information that has leaked out

    • Maybe someone has figured out to (expertly) disguise small explosives as batteries?

      TFA says only that they have "banned the use of electronics on flights servicing the US", (italics mine). It doesn't say that they've banned the presence of the devices. So either the article is poorly worded and unclear, or the ban has nothing to do with bombs masquerading as electronic devices.

      This may be like the "take off your shoes at the airport" bullshit, in that it may have nothing to do with security. It may have everything to do with exercising control, establishing reflexive obedience to authorit

  • So, I read one news article here,
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/0... [nytimes.com]

    Apparently they are banning electronic devices in the cabin due to the possibility of concealing explosives in them in "a way that is hard to detect". Ok, let's assume that is true. Question from me is, what difference does it make if it is in carry-on or checked baggage? Once it is on the plane, wouldn't an attacker be able to detonate it remotely if it is in checked baggage? Am I missing something here?

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      Explosive small enough to conceal inside a laptop case might not be able to do much damage to the plane if surrounded by a bunch of luggage to absorb the engergy. They might for example require the suicide attacker to place them against a vulnerable part of the aircraft like a window.

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