Many people who are hearing about the recent carry-on electronics ban are freaking out and rightfully so. Laptops and tablets help provide hours of entertainment on grueling flights, allow employees to work on important tasks and keep parents from losing their minds when cooped up with their toddler in an airborne sardine can. But, before you join the throngs of angry masses, we’ve outlined what you need to know about the laptop ban so you can get all of the facts first.


What is the laptop ban and who will it effect?

First of all, the ban is not across the board. It does not apply to domestic flights within the US, so breathe a sigh of relief if you’re only headed to Chicago. The ban was implemented as a precaution in response to possible terror threats that involve smuggling explosives in electronic devices. The U.S. Authorities are currently only banning laptops and other electronics from flights originating from these specific airports where threats were deemed the highest: Queen Alia Airport in Amman, Jordan, Cairo International Airport in Cairo, Egypt, Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, King Abdul-Aziz International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait International Airport in Farwaniya, Kuwait, Mohammed V Airport in Casablanca, Morocco, Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, Dubai International Airport in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi International Airport in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. This affects all passengers, including US citizens. Luckily, the ban does not include phones or medical devices; only laptops, tablets and other electronics larger than a smartphone are prohibited for now.


How is everyone taking this news?

Understandably, people are quite upset. Parents are worried about entertaining their children on these lengthy flights and business travelers are furious that they will be missing out on valuable work time while in the air. Travel agents are beside themselves trying to accommodate irate customers, and there’s not much that can be done right now, unfortunately. Because the ban is in place “indefinitely”, moving travel plans up a few weeks won’t help matters. And canceling flights could be out of traveler’s budgets since the airlines affected are imposing their normal cancellation fees.


What can I do if I’m affected by this ban?

There are really only three options travelers can take: cancel your flight, check your electronics with your luggage or ship it to your destination ahead of time. Cancellation is an option for some travelers, but be prepared for hefty fines. Checking your laptop is an option but not ideal due to possible theft or damage. Travel insurance is highly recommended if you go this route. At least if the airline damages your laptop, you’ll get reimbursed. A sturdy laptop case and insurance on the laptop itself are both good preventative measures, as well. Another option is to ship your laptop, but it proves just as risky since theft could still occur and damage is just as possible. If shipping your laptop, make sure to take the same precautions as checking it: pack it in a solid case, get some insurance and backup everything in case you never see it again. Emirates Airlines is offering a small consolation if flying with their airline. They will be implementing a free “laptop and tablet handling service” that will allow passengers to hand over their electronics prior to boarding where officials will box them and place them securely in the cargo hold until disembarkation. This will reduce the risk of damage and theft since it will be going through fewer hands and fewer steps along the boarding process.