Laptop ban on US-bound Turkish Airlines’ flights ends

The ban on carrying large electronic devices aboard U.S.-bound passenger aircraft ended for Turkish Airlines flights from Istanbul early Wednesday, according to an airline spokesman and passengers.

The ban was lifted after American security officials visited Turkish airports to monitor security arrangements.

The U.S. in March banned all passengers from carrying large electronic devices, such as laptops, on commercial flights to the U.S. from 10 international airports in eight Muslim-majority countries — Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey.

Passengers of Turkish Airlines’ U.S.-bound flights can now carry electronic devices aboard flights from Istanbul, an airline spokesman told Anadolu Agency.

Later, in a statement, the national flag carrier said passengers of Turkish Airlines’ U.S.-bound flight, which took off at 6.45 a.m. local time (0345GMT) from Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport, carried their electronic devices aboard the plane.

Turkish Airlines Chairman Ilker Ayci said thousands of devices had been handled carefully even before the ban was lifted.

“Total of 81,736 devices were collected from passengers at gates and carried carefully in special containers in 1,087 U.S.-bound flights during 102 days due to the ban,” Ayci said, according to the statement.

He said 75 percent of the collected devices were laptops and tablets, while remaining 25 percent were cameras, GPS, kindles and other types of devices.

He expressed gratitude to his colleagues for implementing this operation carefully.

Turkish Airlines also tweeted a message to its passengers about the lifting of the ban.

“Dear Passengers, #WelcomeOnBoard to our US-bound flight. Please fasten your seatbelts and enjoy your own electronic devices,” it said.

Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan said on Tuesday American officials would examine explosives detection machines at airports across Turkey.

Turkey, by the end of June, had begun using U.S.-manufactured tomography machines on trial basis to scan luggage at airports.

Bariscan Koymen, who was flying to New York for a family holiday, told Anadolu Agency at the Istanbul airport that he felt relieved by the lifting of the ban.

“We feel a little bit relieved by the removal of this restriction since we are going on a long journey,” Koymen said.

“I always carry my laptop that hold my all vacation plans and personal information, with me everywhere I go.”

Fevzi Kutay Demir, another passenger who was going to the U.S. for summer school, said he was carrying a tablet aboard his flight.

“The lifting of the ban is positive [news] for us. We came to know about the lifting of ban through the media,” Demir said.