Turkish sums up the Electronics Ban

Last Wednesday morning Turkish Airlines received its clearance from the US Department of Homeland Security to end the prohibition of large electronics in the passenger cabin. As the ban is lifted across Turkish and other carriers (Etihad, Emirates, Kuwait Airways, Royal Jordanian, Qatar Airways as of this afternoon) plenty of questions remain. We won’t get answers to most of them, of course, but Turkish sent out a release with some of the numbers around the ban. And I’m a big fan of numbers.

Here’s the breakdown from the company:

During 102 days, 81,736 electronic devices were carefully collected from our passengers at gates by our staff and carried in overprotected baggage on 1,087 flights to the US. 75% of devices were laptops and tablets. 25% of devices consisted of  cameras, GPS devices and e-books.

That’s 10-11 flights per day and 75 devices per flight, on average. Just over 50 laptops or tablets were checked in the cargo bin on each flight based on these numbers (and, no, I have no idea what “overprotected baggage” means). And, fortunately, zero battery fires in the cargo hold. Conveniently, the company did not mention any hard costs associated with staffing for this.

I’m slightly surprised that the number of laptops was that low, though I also suppose that at some point passengers were either booking away from the affected airlines, checking the devices prior to the gate or leaving them at home. Either way, the ban is quickly falling by the wayside, though Morocco, Egypt and Saudi Arabia remain affected today.

Another thing I haven’t quite figured out is how the UK was so quick to follow in banning large electronics (though not from all the same countries/airports) but has chosen to not relax the ban even as US authorities declare that the changes made are sufficient. They’re supposedly working from the same intelligence data and yet came up with impressively different policies that still don’t quite line up.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. “Overprotected” is basically multiple layers of packaging. It is commonly used in the Middle East (and seemingly Turkey also) in lieu of the IATA standard term “overpack”.

  2. I flew back to the US from Istanbul while the ban was in effect.

    The way it worked was like this:
    At the gate and after a few additional security checks, there was an additional line for people with larger than cellphone devices. Staff would take and log your laptop, then wrap it in bubble wrap and place it in a large, hard container with other passengers’ devices. I assume the containers were then placed in the hold. They gave me a free WiFi pass for the flight to compensate.

    At your destination, another line was setup at baggage claim where you could reclaim your device. All in all, pretty painless.

    As a frequent coach passenger. I have to say that my Turkish Airlines flights were the best I’ve flown in recent years. In flight entertainment was free and better than anything I’ve seen before. Food was also decent and alcohol also free.

    Ban was only in effect on inbound US flights, not outbound.

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