The British government will ban laptops, tablets and other large devices from cabin baggage on direct flights to the UK from six countries in the Middle East and Africa, less than 24 hours after the US implemented a similar ban citing security risks.
However, the UK action does not include flights departing from Dubai – the hub of Qantas partner Emirates, which Qantas uses for its own daily QF1 and QF9 services to London – along with Abu Dhabi or Doha, despite those three airports falling under the USA's travel tech ban.
But flights into any UK airport departing from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia will all be covered by the new UK rules, which the Government described as "necessary, effective and proportionate".
This will include the national airlines of those countries alongside flights operated by the likes of British Airways.
Security concerns reportedly circulate around the prospect of a bomb being hidden in one or more devices, such as having its components spread over several large pieces of carry-on tech.
"Under the new arrangements, passengers boarding flights to the UK from the countries affected will not be allowed to take any phones, laptops or tablets larger than a normal sized mobile or smart phone (larger than Length: 16.0cm, Width: 9.3cm, Depth: 1.5cm) into the cabin of the plane," a UK government spokesman said. "Any such devices will need to be placed into hold luggage and checked-in before going through central security."
The UK restrictions will apply to "any phones, laptops or tablets larger than a normal sized mobile or smart phone" – with specific size limits at over 16cm long, 9.3cm wide or 1.5cm deep – and require such kit be placed into checked luggage.
"The UK ban... is not the result of a specific, identified terrorist plot, but of mounting concern in US and British intelligence circles at the ongoing interest amongst jihadist groups in the Middle East in blowing up a passenger plane in mid-air," explains BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner.