The US government is barring passengers on Royal Jordanian Airlines flights from bringing laptops, iPads, cameras and other electronics in carry-on luggage on certain U.S.-bound flights starting Tuesday, the airline said in a tweet on Monday.
The airline said cellphones and medical devices are excluded from the ban. Everything else would need to be packed in checked luggage.
It is unclear what other countries and airlines the ban will apply to, how long it will be in place or what prompted it.
The airline has since deleted their Twitter post announcing the ban but many shocked social media users documented the initial message.
A US government official said such a ban has been considered for several weeks. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose the internal security discussions by the federal government.
The ban would begin just before Wednesday’s meeting of the US-led coalition against ISIS in Washington. A number of top Arab officials were expected to attend the State Department gathering. It was unclear whether their travel plans were related to any increased worry about security threats.
An aviation security expert said the policy would raise other safety issues.
‘There would be a huge disadvantage to having everyone put their electronics in checked baggage,’ said Jeffrey Price, a professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He said thefts from baggage would skyrocket, as when England tried a similar ban in 2006, and ‘some laptops have batteries that can catch fire and it’s easier to detect it when it’s in the cabin rather than burning in the hold.’
However, there are also advantages to screening items in checked baggage instead of as carry-on luggage.
Most major airports in the United States have a computer tomography or CT scanner for checked baggage, which creates a detailed picture of a bag’s contents. They can warn an operator of potentially dangerous material, and may provide better security than the X-ray machines used to screen passengers and their carry-on bags.