Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “We understand the frustration that these measures may cause and we are working with the aviation industry to minimise any impact.”
Air industry consultant John Strickland said the ban would cause “headaches for airlines and customers”, but carriers had “no choice but to put security first”.
While the US government cited unspecified “threats” in its announcement, the prime minister’s official spokesman declined to discuss whether the new rules were prompted by specific intelligence.
The US ban applies to flights from 10 airports in eight countries. Nine airlines are affected – Royal Jordanian, EgyptAir, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways.
Asked why the US ban differed from the UK, Theresa May’s spokesman said: “We have each taken our own decisions.”
A sign of mounting concern
By Frank Gardner, BBC security correspondent
This is a controversial decision, and, I’m told, not an easy one for the government.
The UK ban goes even further than the US move which does not affect national carriers.
It is not the result of a specific, identified terrorist plot, but of mounting concern in US and British intelligence circles at the ongoing interest amongst jihadist groups in the Middle East in blowing up a passenger plane in mid-air.
There are some in Whitehall who fear this may be an over-reaction, with damaging commercial and diplomatic consequences. But others have pointed to last year’s laptop bomb smuggled onto a flight from Somalia by insurgents from Al-Shabaab.
The year before, so-called Islamic State blew up a Russian passenger plane over the Sinai Peninsula. But that bomb was hidden in the hold, where laptops and other devices will still be allowed.
The editor of Aviation Security International, Philip Baum, told the BBC that “encouraging people to check laptops, and other such items, into the luggage hold simply makes the challenge of screening even harder”.
For more than two years, the official UK threat level for international terrorism has stood at severe, meaning an attack is “highly likely”.
In July 2014, passengers at UK airports were advised to ensure electronic devices were charged so they could be switched on for security checks.
The ban on liquids over 100ml in hand luggage – introduced after a foiled 2006 plot to blow up planes using explosives hidden in drink bottles – also remains in place.
The US has given airlines 96 hours, beginning at 07:00 GMT on Tuesday, to implement its ban, which officials said had no end date.
Passengers on some 50 flights a day from some of the busiest hubs in the Middle East, Turkey and North Africa will be affected.
The Turkish government has said the US ban is wrong and should be reversed.
But the Department of Homeland Security said extremists were seeking “innovative methods” to bring down jets.
In a statement, it said the US government was “concerned about terrorists’ ongoing interest in targeting commercial aviation, including transportation hubs over the past two years”.