The US has supposedly issued a secret directive to ban electronic devices larger than a smartphone from airline cabins on flights from the Middle East and Africa. There are conflicting reports on which flights are being affected, as the airlines have also apparently been told to keep quiet.
Reports vary between 10 and 13 countries affected. The Associated Press has confirmed that at least 10 international airports are affected by the ban. Both Saudi Arabian Airlines and Royal Jordanian Airlines have confirmed that their flights have been affected by the ban. The Royal Jordanian Airlines broke the news after issuing a tweet informing passengers about the situation; but appears to have deleted the message.
The 10 airports affected are: Cairo in Egypt; Amman in Jordan; Kuwait City in Kuwait; Casablanca in Morocco; Doha in Qatar; Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia; Istanbul in Turkey; and Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
As it stands, all direct flights to and from the affected airports will only allow smartphones in the cabin. Passengers are still allowed to travel with other electronics, but these must be checked in with the rest of the luggage. A situation that may worry those traveling with fragile equipment like cameras and laptops.
The prevailing theory is that the ban comes due to security concerns from the US. All requests for more information from the TSA were redirected to the Department of Homeland Security.
There are issues with forcing passengers to check their electronics into the luggage compartment. Most notably is that many airlines do not allow passengers to check laptops due to the use of lithium-ion batteries. These batteries run the risk of catching fire, and planes do not have cargo holds capable of suppressing the flames.
It is unknown if this ban will affect Malaysians travelling to the US. As it stands, there is a chance that those transiting at an affected airport may be covered by the ban. Unfortunately, the only way to find out is for someone to accidentally violate the ban; since both airlines and US authorities are not commenting on the situation.