Security Theater that was Abu Dhabi Pre-Clearance and Laptop Ban

Having just returned from the Maldives (and working on getting the full trip report going), I returned via Abu Dhabi and flew in the famous A380 First Class Apartments on Etihad. After all the electronics ban back and forth, and said ban now being lifted, I was very interested to see the new security measures put in place at the Abu Dhabi Pre-Clearance facility.

Abu Dhabi Pre-Clearance Facility

For those not aware, you are able to clear US Customs at the Abu Dhabi airport. What that means is you then enter the United States as a domestic flight, right into the terminal. This is very handy when connecting to flights within the United States.

You even can use your Global Entry there as well, avoiding long lines. Very convenient overall. But, what enhanced security there was since the laptop ban had been lifted was what interested me most. After all, airports and airlines did have to agree to “enhanced security measures” to get the laptop ban lifted.

Abu Dhabi US Pre-Clearance Security
Abu Dhabi US Pre-Clearance Facility

What was my experience with the “enhanced” security measures?

  • Take all liquids out
  • Remove every electronic (including cell phones) and put into bin
  • Raise the lid on your laptop as it went through the scanner

That’s it. I was expecting having to turn electronics on or something else. Nope, nothing.

Keep in mind the liquids part was pretty standard. But at this point we had packed poorly and our liquids were scattered through the two carry-ons between amenity kits from our flights, actual toiletry kit, etc. So, some liquids went through accidentally. Nothing was said.

Those electronics? They were just…scanned. Pretty quickly. I took my time packing my bag back up to try and observe if others were having to turn laptops or ipads on. Nothing.

Bottom Line

I, like many others, always thought the laptop ban was a bit of a joke. Now that it’s been lifted I was hoping to see what the enhanced security measures were. Of course I did not want them to be very inconvenient but was fully expecting they may involve turning electronics on, showing you could actually perform on action on the electronic device, etc.

However it’s pretty clear that just like the security theater of the laptop ban these new measures seem almost exactly the same as normal security measures. Making this security theater round two.

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