US prepares to ban laptops on flights from Europe

Posted May 13, 2017

Laptops will no longer be allowed in airplane cabins on flights originating from Europe going to the United States due to terrorism fears, the Department of Homeland Security is expected to announce on Thursday.

Citing multiple industry sources, Reuters reported European airports and airlines have been preparing for a potential electronic ban since the usa announced its restrictions in March. As NPR's Jason Slotkin reported, the airline cited the Trump administration's bans on travel from other Muslim-majority countries, now held up by the courts, as additional factors in the reduction of business.

Reuters says that the expansion will affect flights on United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines Group.

While a broadening of the restrictions could "only be a negative" for airlines, making on-time departure more challenging and adding costs for loaner devices, it might at least amount to a "zero-sum game" if applied universally to trans-Atlantic operators, said Mark Simpson, an analyst at Goodbody Stockbrokers in Dublin.

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DHS spokesperson David Lapan said on Twitter on Wednesday that a possible expansion of the ban is "under consideration" and that no final decision has been made. Emirates, based in Dubai, cited the policy in hurting demand and leading to its decision to reduce flights to the U.S.

She said the European Union had no new information about a specific security concern.

Under the policy, passengers are prohibited from carrying electronic devices larger than a cellphone - such as laptops, tablets, cameras and portable DVD players - onto cabins of select flights, but can still stow the items in checked luggage.

Jeffrey Price, an aviation-security expert at Metropolitan State University of Denver, said the original ban focused on certain countries because their equipment to screen carry-on bags is not as effective as machines in the U.S. The carrier has suggested the current ban is discriminatory, and is paring capacity to the the measures impact occupancy.

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Earlier this week, the International Air Transport Association held a separate meeting in Washington with airports and members of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, two aviation industry sources said.

Department of Homeland Security officials spoke with airline industry representatives about the electronics ban on Thursday, according to Homeland Security and industry sources.

In addition to frustrating air travelers and in turn upsetting more airlines, expanding the ban could lead to another safety issue.

At the Delta area of the Cincinnati airport, a sign warned passengers that beginning Friday on flights returning to the USA any electronic devices other than a cellphone would have to be placed in checked baggage. Should one catch fire in the cargo area of a plane, there would be no way to access it in-flight to put out the flames.

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