The Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) has noted with concern the recent announcement by the United Kingdom and United States banning laptops, tablets, e-readers and several other electronic devices from hand luggage on flights originating from such destinations as Doha, Istanbul, Abu Dhabi and Dubai – all of which carry a great deal of traffic from South Africa to these two destinations.

“While we support any initiatives to improve the safety and security of travellers and the destinations that they visit, the reasons behind these new rules have not been made clear, other than to say that they have been put in place ‘based on the current threat picture’.

“Traditionally, at check in, travellers are asked if they have anything valuable in their checked baggage. It would now appear, that passengers travelling to the US and UK from affected destinations, even if it is via these destinations, will be forced to include their valuable in their checked baggage risking theft and damage to their property,” says Otto de Vries, CEO ASATA.

The question remains: who will be responsible if these electronic items are stolen or damaged as travel insurers are clear that this will not be covered in their insurance policies?

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“For South Africa travellers travelling via these hubs and checking their baggage through to the USA or UK, electronic devices will have to be included in their baggage at their point of check-in in South Africa. Will checked bags be screened as thoroughly as hand baggage is? What processes at airports will need to change to accommodate these changes?

“And then of course there’s a risk that electronic devices may be stolen, and if the bag has been breached, is that not in itself a security threat?” concludes Otto.