What are the new Covid travel rules and why has Nigeria been added to red list?

Why do all international flights from Europe to Nigeria need to check in luggage first? And who is going to be affected?

What are the new Covid travel rules and why has Nigeria been added to red list?

Why do all international flights from Europe to Nigeria need to check in luggage first? And who is going to be affected?

Given the recent attacks in the north-east, which have claimed over 2,000 lives and forced half a million people to flee their homes, it is hardly surprising that extra precautions are being taken by airlines flying to Nigeria. But when it comes to travel bags, little is known about the new rules, nor are airlines permitted to publicly comment on them, as the new regulations are classified “sensitive”.

How will the new rules affect passengers?

Airlines are working out which of the 26 items could be potentially dangerous to carry on board the aircraft and which should be left at home. A small number have already been withdrawn.

How much change will passengers have to make?

Passengers booked to fly from UK or EU airports to Nigeria’s major cities of Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, Yola, Ibadan and Kaduna can still travel with their own checked bags. All other flights require two pieces of checked luggage, if they require two checked bags at all – and with the regulation only allowing one item on board in excess of the original weight limit (and checked-in bags must be no heavier than 55kg), this could be anything up to a few extra pounds.

Not all airlines are going to charge passengers for their baggage. However, if you don’t check in two bags – either because you are being selected for extra security screening or, like most international airlines, because flight crew are in charge of baggage services – check-in fees are likely to apply for those travelling with just one bag.

How are those on flights within Nigeria supposed to check in a second piece of luggage?

If passengers are heading for Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Ibadan and Kaduna, that is because they are due to go to Nigeria or the city of Nigeria. In this case, the destination is being disclosed and the two items must be in check-in.

Although a spokesperson for the Nigerian aviation ministry told the BBC that all these planes will be run by the same airline, there has been confusion over whether foreign airlines will also be affected. International charter flights to the region have also been concerned. At the moment, there are more than 10 charter flights to Nigeria each week, and many of them serve more than one airport.

Last weekend, passengers travelling on the London-Lagos flight explained that if they were on a flight for Lagos that had left from any other location, they wouldn’t have to check in.

Where will Nigerian passengers of say, easyJet, fly?

“EasyJet is not affected,” says the airline’s London-based spokesperson. “Even if someone has been selected for a random security check, easyJet can ensure everyone board safely by checking in at the airport. There have been no changes.”

American carriers could be affected. Instead of their cargo airlines operating flights into the country, their first contact with customs officials will be upon landing in Lagos, and passengers can make a claim if the airline has not made arrangements for them to check in before travel.

If you plan to fly into or out of Nigeria, other airlines to avoid are those from Brazil, Singapore, South Korea, India, Malaysia, Singapore, the Middle East, the Gulf or Asia, and from Mauritius.

Why have Nigerian passengers been added to the red list?

Nigeria is one of the countries considered to be the most vulnerable to extremist attacks. Boko Haram, the largest insurgent group fighting for an Islamic state in north-east Nigeria, has demanded a change to the country’s multi-national strategy in the region. In response, the US has issued a travel warning for Nigerians living in the US, warning them of possible terrorist threats to them, their family and their loved ones.

The US Department of Homeland Security says “terrorists” have threatened to target specific infrastructure, which could include airports, especially as the Trump administration re-examines the visa waiver programme that allows citizens of 38 European countries to travel to the US without applying for visas.

According to the Unite to Prevent bomb alerts system, Nigerian airspace has been the scene of only two reported incidents of attacks since 9/11, but both involved attacks on Nigeria’s power supply infrastructure.

• This article was amended on 23 September 2017. It originally named

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