Will US ban laptops on flights from Europe? Feds meet with airlines about it – Los Angeles Times
Officials of the Department of Homeland Security are meeting with airline industry representatives Thursday to discuss the possibility of expanding a ban on bringing laptop computers and other larger electronic devices as carry-ons on planes flying to the U.S. from Europe, according to industry sources
The potential move would expand restrictions imposed in March by the U.S. and Britain to ban electronic devices larger than a smartphone in passenger cabins of flights from eight Middle Eastern and African countries.
A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said no decision on an expansion of the ban has been made yet but the proposal is under consideration.
“DHS continues to evaluate the threat environment and will make changes when necessary to keep air travelers safe,” department spokesman David Lapan said. “When there are changes, we’ll announce that.”
The U.S. ban already in place requires passengers on international flights from 10 airports in the Middle East and Africa to put all laptop computers, electronic tablets and other devices larger than a smartphone into luggage checked into the cargo compartment.
Senior U.S. administration officials have declined to elaborate on any threats that may have prompted the ban, saying only that commercial airlines are still a target of terrorists who are trying to smuggle explosives in electronic devices.
CNN has reported that U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies believe that the Islamic State group and other terrorist organizations have developed new ways to plant explosives in electronic devices that could evade some common airport security screening methods.
CNN cited unnamed intelligence officials saying that terrorists would have a more difficult time detonating an explosive remotely and that placing the laptops and other devices in the cargo bay might reduce damage even if a bomb were to explode.
But safety experts have raised questions about the potential for batteries in electronic devices to catch fire in the hold.
The current ban by the U.S. imposes the restrictions on flights from Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Morocco. Los Angeles International Airport gets direct flights from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
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 international travel.
Travel industry experts had previously worried that President Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban travel from several Middle Eastern countries would send a message that the U.S. is not welcoming to foreign visitors.
Travel data so far has not shown a significant drop in international travel to the U.S. but industry officials remain worried.
Jonathan Grella, executive vice president for the U.S. Travel Assn., said travel industry officials want to protect travelers from terrorist threats but also want to be informed by government officials on why new security measures are imposed.
“It is critical that the U.S. government clearly communicate the details of this new policy and the reasons why it’s needed, continually reassess it to ensure it remains relevant and effective, and actively seek protocols that neutralize threats while minimizing disruption for legitimate business and leisure travelers,” he said in a statement released Thursday.
12:15 p.m.: This article was updated to include statements from the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Travel Assn. as well as previous expressions of concern from safety experts.
This article was originally published at 10:40 a.m.