Ever wonder how the in-flight electronics ban works in practice?
Last week I flew from Istanbul to Los Angeles on Turkish Airlines, in part to experience the new in-flight electronics ban. How did Turkish deliver? See my step-by-step guide below.
Step One: Enter Airport
Istanbul Ataturk Airport is very secure. As you enter the airport, your ticket will be verified and you will proceed through a metal detector. Your luggage will also be screened.
Step Two: Follow Signs to a Special Check-in Area for Your Turkish Airlines Flights to the United States
As you enter the check-in line, you will be interviewed by a member of the security staff. Questions include whether you packed your bags, whether you were given anything to transport, etc…the usual questions on all U.S. bound flights. A sticker will be placed on the back of your passport as proof of the interview.
After the interview, you will be invited to check-in for your flight and drop off your larger bags. At this point, you do not have to surrender your banned in-flight electronic devices.
Step Three: Proceed to Passport Control, Security Screening, and Wait for Your Flight
Stamp out of Turkey and go through a closer inspection of your carry-on items then when arriving at the airport. Be prepared to turn on your electronic devices to show that they are functioning.
Don’t miss the Turkish Airlines Lounge if you have access:
But don’t worry if you do not. Istanbul is a modern airport with the restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and plenty of shopping:
Step Four: Proceed to Gate for Boarding
Line up for flight boarding about an hour before scheduled departure.
Although you will not have to go through a third security screening, your carry-on bags will be searched for banned electronics items. If any banned items are found, you will be forced to “gate check” them for your flight to the USA.
Step Five: Gate Check Electronic Device(s)
If you have banned in-flight electronic devices (all devices larger than a cell phone), your boarding pass will be taken and you’ll be directed to a line to check in your device.
Here’s where Turkish does a great job. Your laptop, tablet or camera will be sealed in bubblewrap. A special luggage tag is filled out with a description of your item(s) and placed directly on the bubblewrap. You also must sign a log verifying that you have checked in your electronic device(s).
All electronic devices, now carefully protected in padding, are loaded into a Turkish Airlines’ rollerboard.
Step Six: Board and Enjoy Your Flight
Turkish Airlines is comfortable onboard. If you’re flying into Los Angeles sit on the right of the plane for a prime view of downtown.
Step Seven: Proceed to Passport Control and Into the Luggage Hall
After immigration and custom formalities, find your luggage carousel and collect your bags. Your electronics will not come off onto the carousel.
Step Eight: Collect Your Electronic Device(s)
You should find a table set up near the luggage belt. The black suitcases checked in at Istanbul filled with electronic devices will be brought directly there. Present your claim ticket and a Turkish agent will find your device(s) and return them to you. Once returned, you will sign a form indicating you have collected your device(s).
Of course it was annoying to be compelled to check-in my laptop, but Turkish handled the ban very well. I was pleased both at the safety and promptness of the service as well as being able to keep my laptop until final boarding.
The in-flight electronics ban will likely stick around for awhile. At least Turkish has already streamlined a process for making the ban as painless as possible.