As rumours continue to circulate that the so-called ‘laptop ban’ which came in to force recently will be extended to cover flights from Europe to the USA, here’s where things currently stand at the moment – along with a few tips from Cheapflights about how to keep your possessions safe when they’re checked in the hold, and how to keep yourself (and others!) occupied when a screen isn’t an option.

Editor’s note: All information is correct at time of publication on 1st June 2017. We do our best to bring you the most timely information, but until superhuman speed is perfected, we can only move so fast. Please always double check current policies with your airline(s) or agent before you book. 

Which countries are affected by the UK ban?

Large phones, laptops and tablets are not allowed in the cabin on direct flights to the UK from:

Saudi Arabia

These restrictions cover all airlines.

Which electronic items are currently included in the ban?

Phones, laptops and tablets larger than the following dimensions will not be allowed in the cabin:

  • Length: 16.0cm
  • Width: 9.3cm
  • Depth: 1.5cm

You must also check the size of the following accessories. You can’t take any of these accessories or devices in your hand luggage if they’re larger than these measurements, even if you bought them at the airport. If in doubt, check with your airline prior to departure.

  • Keyboards
  • Power supplies and transformers
  • External hard drives

Most smart phones will be allowed in the cabin, including many currently popular handsets such as:

  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • Samsung Galaxy 7 Edge
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
  • LG G3
  • Sony Xperia Z2

Tips to keep your electronics safe in the hold:

It’s impossible to guarantee the safety of any item checked in an aircraft hold. Unfortunately, accidents – or worse – do happen. These few simple steps may go some way to mitigating the risks, but the best deterrent is simply – if you can manage without it – leave the screen at home.

  • Pack electronics in a protective case
  • Wrap items in a towel/clothing, then pack in the centre of the suitcase ensuring there is clothing below, above and to the sides of the items to provide extra padding. Wrap each electronic separately, not in one pile
  • Lock your case to reduce the chances of items going missing, but only use a TSA-approved lock to secure your suitcase
  • Check your insurance cover for electronics packed in the hold
  • Pack efficiently by not taking items you won’t really need or will attract attention to your suitcase. Also, consider buying toiletries once at your destination to reduce the chance of liquids leaking into your electronics

Top tips for travelling long-haul, device-free:

While these new restrictions are a bit of an inconvenience, these handy tips will help you make the most of your newly screen-free travel experience:

  • Expect confusion and delays – Arrive at the airport at least three hours before departure. There are likely to be extra-long queues as the new ruling takes effect – expect delays from confused passengers, while bags are repacked at check-in and while bags are screened at departures
  • Look forward to the inflight entertainment – Check your flight’s in-flight entertainment options before travelling, to see the latest movies, TV shows, radio shows and exclusive content available during the journey
  • Time to relax – Indulge in some free pre-flight relaxation in World Duty Free to aid rest on the flight. A number of brands offer free treatments including hand and arm massages at Jo Malone London, facials at La Mer and MAC make up sessions. To keep the glow going, buy mini toiletries sets to use mid-air to arrive feeling pampered
  • Help yourself catch some zzz’s – Get some much-needed sleep and stay hydrated to help fight off jet lag. Invest in a decent travel pillow, eye mask and noise cancelling headphones, and buy extra water
  • Book Club – Rediscover the joy of reading a book, from an old favourite to a new author, lose yourself in the pages and the hours will slip past
  • Still puzzling what to do? – Flex your brain with a puzzle book. Crosswords and Sudoku are perfect for stimulating your brain and using your hands whilst on a long flight
  • Power up your phone – Upload apps and content onto your mobile phone that can be viewed, played or read while in flight safe mode
  • Business travel with brains – Business travellers should consider buying access to an airport lounge to use the lounge’s computers before they fly, or during a stopover. Carry work files on a USB to use at the lounge and in case of delayed or lost baggage, especially if these files are crucial shortly after arrival at your destination

Top tips for travelling device-free with children:

We all know how helpful screens can be in keeping kids in order during a long and tiring flight – giving both them and their parents a bit of a break. Here’s how to achieve the same effect without hours of games, apps or movies to fall back on:

  • Do sticker books – Stickers stick. To everything. And that’s exactly why they’re so perfect for the plane – there are no little bits to lose, or drop repeatedly in the footwell. Usborne do a great range of holiday and airport themed sticker books. And the appeal isn’t limited to toddlers – there are plenty of options elsewhere for older children, too, from Minecraft to Star Wars themed
  • Colour in – These days, colouring books are just as much for adults as kids. If you’ve got teens, pack something like Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel Colouring Book and you may well be fighting over it. And if you’ve got toddlers and you’re worried about them getting pen everywhere, have a look at Crayola Colour Wonder books. They come with pens, so you don’t have to remember to pack them, and they’re specially designed to only work on the pages of the book
  • Play etch-a-sketch – Avoid having to bring pens or pencils at all, and get a travel-sized etch-a-sketch pad. The little stylus is attached by a string, so your little one can’t lose it. And once they’re fed up of their masterpiece, they can wipe it clean and start all over again
  • Build LEGO – There are some very cool DIY LEGO travel boxes on Pinterest, and it’s really easy to do at home. Just buy a LEGO set that comes in a carry-case – lots do – then superglue a LEGO base plate to one of the inside surfaces of the case. Pull down the tray table, open it up and your child can build whatever they fancy, without dropping the pieces everywhere
  • Give them your iPod – Still own an iPod? Got a teenager or pre-teen? Let them fill it with audiobooks, download some podcasts and create their own soundtrack of holiday songs before the trip. Then invest in some decent earphones designed for young ears and enjoy the peace and quiet
  • Do an activity book – Lonely Planet do a great range of books where every page is packed with interactive things to do, so it’ll be a decent amount of time before anyone says they’re bored. Try the Adventures In series for pre-schoolers, Spot The Lot for kids aged five and up, and the Not For Parents range for older kids and pre-teens. They’re all travel-themed, naturally
  • Get crafty – You don’t need to pack glue and paint to get crafty on the plane – there are loads of craft activities that are mess-free. ELC’s Sew and Lace cards are ideal for travel as they’ll keep toddlers and young children busy without any fuss, plus they’re super cheap. And Robots to Make and Decorate is another glue-free option aimed at older kids, which is all flat-packed in a handy book
  • Play travel games – Loads of classic games come in travel-friendly sizes. Pack a mini Guess Who? for younger kids or Uno cards if your children are a bit older and you can play them on holiday, too. Plus, 50 Fun Games For On The Go is a good one for ideas that don’t need any props. Even if each game only takes five minutes, that’s more than four hours of your journey covered
  • Design a postcard – Put them to work before your trip, and get them making postcards to can send from their holiday. Take a blank pack and some pens, or buy a postcard book – there are loads to choose from. It works especially well for younger kids, who can help buy stamps and find a postbox
  • Read a book – Go old-school and pack an actual made-of-paper book for your pre-teen. Choose something travel-themed, or just go for something you’d be happy to read, too, and you’ll save space in your hand luggage. Young adult novels like Divergent and The Fault In Our Stars are prime examples

About the author

Oonagh ShielContent Manager at Cheapflights whose travel life can be best summed up as BC (before children) and PC (post children). We only travel during the school holidays so short-haul trips and staycations are our specialities!

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