DHS Considers Carry-On Laptop Ban On Flights From Europe

Barsaba Taglieri
Mag 16, 2017

In response to the original ban, Persian Gulf carriers including Qatar Airways, which has a daily flight between Philadelphia and Doha, now provide their passengers with complimentary laptops on flights and allow travelers to use personal electronic devices at the gate until they board the aircraft.

The first iteration of the ban affected passengers aboard direct flights to the USA from 10 airports in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

A broader ban would have a significant impact on US and European carriers, which are concerned about the challenges of checking large numbers of devices.

DHS spokesman David Lapan confirmed the talks but said no announcement was planned on whether the United States government would expand the ban.

"This ban disrupts business travellers' ability to travel and remain productive - adding it to the list of disastrous, cumbersome airline security policies we've seen over the years, from restrictions on liquids to removing shoes at security checkpoints", he added.

The Financial Times reports that the Department of Homeland Security will continue to evaluate the threat environment but has "not made any decisions on expanding the current restrictions".

Europe's The Daily Beast reported all flights from Europe to the USA would be affected, citing European security officials.

Passengers traveling with affected devices will be required to store them in their checked baggage.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly spoke with European officials on Friday to discuss threats to aviation and a possible expansion of a ban on in-cabin electronics larger than cellphones, U.S. and European officials said.

European regulators warned that placing hundreds of devices in the hold on long-haul flights could compromise safety if poorly deactivated lithium-ion batteries catch fire.

But Homeland Security officials met Thursday with high-ranking executives of the three leading US airlines - American, Delta and United - and the industry's leading USA trade group, Airlines for America, to discuss expanding the laptop policy to flights arriving from Europe. In 2016, 30 million people flew to the United States from Europe, according to U.S. Transportation Department data.

US administration officials said in March that intelligence suggests terrorists are able to hide explosives in laptops.

Discussion of expanding the ban to flights from Europe comes as the summer travel season approaches, and at a time when the travel industry has reported strong demand for global travel.

"The Commission is keen to work closely with all worldwide partners - including the US authorities - on identifying developing threats in aviation and the best ways to address them together", Itkonen said.

Numerous flights are operated by USA airlines such as Delta, United and American, or their European partners.

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