Tips and Tricks

The Turkish Airlines Electronics Ban Experience

There is a lot of grey area when it comes to the newly instated electronics ban. The good news is that the electronics ban may soon be a thing of the past, even for the Middle East. In the meantime, hopefully this mini-guide is helpful for anyone who is going to be flying soon to the United States from one of the countries where the ban is in place. I experienced this process in June when I flew from Istanbul to Chicago on Turkish Airlines. While I can’t tell you exactly what your experience will be like, I can share my Turkish Airlines electronics ban experience with you to at least give you a sense for the process and what to generally expect.

Firstly, I just have to share how positive my entire Turkish Airlines experience was. They went above and beyond to move me up to first class after I was bumped further back in the plane from my original seat toward the front and had a quick one-hour layover. It definitely saved me from missing my flight, since I also had to go through the entire electronics checking process at the gate. After bolting from my first flight, here’s what the process was like to check my electronics in Istanbul.

Turkish Airlines First Class

My experience is based off of flying Turkish Airlines from Istanbul to Chicago in June 2017. Their procedures may change by the time you read this. 

Step 1: Wait in line to show your passport and ticket

After the first line I went to a second line to show my passport and ticket again. Then passengers are split up into US citizens and non-citizens and placed into a third line… to show your passport and ticket again. I have no clue why this needed to happen so many times.

Step 2: Carry on bags are searched

I had a purse and a large backpack with me as I didn’t check a bag for this trip. Though I’ve heard your bags have to go through another scanner at the gate in some airports, there was no scanner here. Turkish Airlines staff manually checked my bags. They opened up the top of my backpack, dug around a bit, and closed it. I had my computer in my purse, so they pulled that out but didn’t see the camera I also had in there. They then took my boarding pass and placed me in another line.

Turkish Airlines Electronics Ban Line

The line to have your bags checked (sorry for the horrible lighting in this photo).

Step 3: Electronics are packaged up for the cargo hold

I was still holding my computer at this point, so they take your boarding pass so you don’t sneak out of line and get on the plane with your electronics. Then they package up the electronics with bubble wrap, make a note describing your device, and give you a checked electronics tag that you’ll need to hold on to for when you pick up your item(s) at the gate. I didn’t have a case on my computer, but I noticed they told others to take items out of their cases at this point since they were wrapping them up securely.

Turkish Airlines Electronics Ban Experience

The line after your bags are searched, where you actually hand over your electronics.

Bonus: Turkish Airlines provided all passengers checking electronics at the gate on this flight with a code for free in-flight wifi. Though it’s not quite the same when all I could use was my phone, it was still a nice gesture for an inconvenience out of their control.

Free Wifi Turkish Airlines Electronics Ban

Step 4: Board the plane

Yep, that’s it! It was a simple process, and thankfully I felt pretty well prepared on what to expect after doing some research ahead of time. However, it was clear that not all passengers felt this way. You could tell there were some very frustrated people who didn’t have a clue what was going on. So if you’re reading this, you are already one step ahead!

Step 5: Pick up your electronics at baggage claim

There will be a section near the baggage claim for your flight called “personal electronics devices claim area.” The Turkish Airlines flight attendants will bring the cases of electronics over to this area.

Turkish Airlines Checked Electronics Cases

The cases where they store all the electronics.

This was probably the most disorganized part of the entire process. There was not a good space to form a line, so people would just congregate in the general vicinity of this area. They requested anyone with a connecting flight comes to the front, but they didn’t have any signs stating this so people who walked over late would go to the front with the connecting flight passengers.

Turkish Airlines Checked Electronics Pickup

The personal electronics devices claim area.

Once you show them your electronics tag, it says what number case your item is in but it can take them a few minutes to actually find it since there are so many items in the large cases. My laptop made it across the ocean safe and sound!

Checked Electronics Turkish Airlines

My bubble wrapped laptop post-flight.

Despite the many lines, the entire process was actually quicker than I expected. It only took me around 15 minutes to get through everything — but I was also coming from another flight that was delayed so the majority of passengers were already on the flight at that point.

Make sure to check with your specific airline before flying to confirm their checked electronics process. Not everyone is as on top of their procedure as Turkish Airlines, and some airlines do not have a checking process at the boarding gate.

My experience is based off of flying Turkish Airlines from Istanbul to Chicago in June 2017. Their procedures may change by the time you read this. 

Turkish Airline’s electronics ban process is outlined as follows on their website:

For our passengers flying to the USA:

As per the directive issued by the relevant authorities of U.S., passengers of U.S. bound flights from Turkey:

  • Are not permitted to carry electronic devices, with the exception of medical devices, larger than a cell phone or smart phone (i.e. all laptops, tablets, cameras, e-readers, portable DVD’s, portable scanners/printers and gaming devices etc.) on board. All devices mentioned must be placed in checked-in baggage at the start of any U.S.-bound journey.
  • Separate/spare lithium batteries and power banks (portable power sources) are allowed on board.

In course of the effectiveness of this directive our passengers will be able to:

  • Use complimentary Wi-Fi on their cell phones.
  • Use all the above devices until boarding and hand over their electronic devices at the boarding gate.
  • Transit passengers may also hand over their electronic devices at the boarding gate.

Should our passengers prefer not to hand in their devices to the baggage hold areas, Turkish Airlines offers a special service from Istanbul that gives its passengers a safe and secure method of carrying their electronics in a special area in the cargo hold of the aircraft. The authorized Turkish Airlines’ staff at the boarding gate will receive the devices and separately tagged them all to be transported in the special baggage areas. Upon landing the authorized Turkish Airlines’ staff will deliver each device to its owners by checking the tags at the designated point.

Relevant practice will be only applied for the passengers of U.S. bound flights from Turkey and does not affect flights leaving from the U.S. for Turkey and beyond.

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The Turkish Airlines Electronics Ban Experience

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