US, EU in urgent talks on expanding laptop ban on flights

In March, Washington banned passengers on direct flights to the United States from 10 airports in eight countries from carrying on board laptop computers, tablets and other electronic devices larger than cellphones.

According to a new report from The Daily Beast, the Department of Homeland Security tomorrow will issue revamped travel guidelines that will prevent any passengers flying into the US from Europe from travelling with laptops.

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

Airline representatives have also expressed their concern to Congress, according to two congressional staffers who asked not to be named because they aren't authorized to discuss the discussions.

An industry-backed group, the Airline Passenger Experience Association, said the USA government should consider alternatives. If it spreads to Europe, "it's simply a matter of time" before laptops are banned in the cabins of domestic US flights, he said.

Some U.S. airlines have been making plans in the event of an order to require them to bar passengers from traveling to the United States without larger electronics in the cabin, airline officials briefed on the matter said.

The current rule still allows passengers to take phones inside the cabin, but forces them to check any larger electronic items, including laptops and tablets.

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According to Reuters, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly will give a classified briefing to senators Thursday.

A congresional official said it appeared that Homeland Securitiy was likely to expand the ban soon, but did not say when or to what airports.

The agency confirmed to BuzzFeed News Wednesday that a large electronics ban is "under consideration".

A broader ban would have a significant impact USA and European carriers, which are concerned about the challenges of checking large numbers of devices. It is unclear if this ban will also apply to tablets, like Kindles or iPads.

The restriction was introduced in March over fears that bombs or explosive materials could be concealed on electronic devices brought onboard.

Shortly after the original ban was announced the Flight Safety Foundation, a leading aviation safety group, warned that it could create risks by shifting scores of lithium-battery powered devices to cargo holds.

  • Myrtle Hill