US, Europe discuss new laptop ban on flights

May 19, 2017, 04:26
US, Europe discuss new laptop ban on flights

On Wednesday, in a secure room in Brussels, officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the European Union swapped information about threats involving air travel.

The proposed electronics ban would create logistical chaos on the world's busiest air travel corridor - as many as 65 million people a year travel between Europe and North America on almost 400 daily flights, many of them business travelers who rely on the devices to work during flight. Emirates blamed the ban among factors reducing demand when it scaled back flights to the U.S.

European officials say they received little advance notice of a possible expansion before news reports surfaced last week.

The travel community is sounding the alarm over the potential expansion of a policy banning laptops in the cabins of certain flights to the United States.

Experts say a bomb in the cabin would be easier to make and require less explosive force than one in the hold.

As many as 90 percent of passengers carry affected devices, the group estimates, meaning that implementing ad hoc screening checks and loading devices into aircraft cargo compartments would cause significant delays and cancellations.

The ban raises a series of concerns that so far have not been addressed by the Department of Homeland Security, most notably large lithium-ion batteries that are now not allowed in cargo holds by many airlines due to their propensity to catch fire. The agency declined to comment Wednesday but said last month's guidance was still valid.

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As yet no details of a specific threat have been released.

The European Commission and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) yesterday decided against extending the ban on large portable electronic devices (PEDs) including laptops and tablets from cabin baggage on flights from Europe.

Two airline officials who were briefed on the discussions said Homeland Security gave no timetable for an announcement, but they were resigned to its inevitability. Kelly spoke in Phoenix at the company's annual meeting.

Airline passengers could be facing new restrictions.

Instead, IATA proposed airports introduce more in-depth pre-flight screening rather than forcing passengers to give up their devices.

Three of the top USA airlines would be hit hardest by the expanded ban.

Lapan said talks would consider the "scale and scope" of what the laptop ban might entail.

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If an agreement is reached, it will raise questions about the necessity for the United States and United Kingdom bans on electronics flying in from specific countries. Tablets and laptops must be stowed in checked baggage.

He said it would slow passage through security checks as people try to negotiate a way of keeping their laptops.

Deploying extra staff would take time because they would need to be trained and get security clearance.

At least for now, we can breathe a sigh of relief that the EU/US meetings have ended without a plan to ban laptops on planes. though such a plan could always pop out again in the near future (and, it will nearly certainly happen if there is an airplane bombing).

An industry-backed group, the Airline Passenger Experience Association, said the US government should consider alternatives.

Pace University management professor Andrew Coggins Jr. pointed out that putting laptops in checked bags "exposes them to theft and damage", and inconveniences business travelers who may also use their laptops during long global flights.

At the same time, ACI EUROPE Director General Olivier Jankovec also called upon both the EU and United States to "reset their cooperation on aviation security" considering the huge ramifications of any wholesale ban on PEDs in cabin luggage.

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In April, we first reported that USA intelligence and law enforcement agencies believed that ISIS and other terrorist organizations had developed new ways to place explosives in laptops and other electronic devices to evade airport security screening methods.

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