That laptop ban could be about to get a whole lot worse for plane passengers
Friday 02 June 2017

That laptop ban could be about to get a whole lot worse for plane passengers

The U.S.-imposed ban preventing plane passengers on certain U.S.-bound flights from taking electronic devices larger than a mobile phone into the cabin could be about to get a whole lot more troublesome for travelers.

In an interview on Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly confirmed the government is now considering a ban on laptops and other devices in the cabins of all international flights to and from the U.S.

Speaking on Fox News Sunday about the security issue, Kelly was asked directly if he intended to extend the ban to flights into and out of the country.

The government official shot straight back with, “I might,” before elaborating. “There’s a real threat. Numerous threats against aviation, that’s really the thing that they are obsessed with, the terrorists, the idea of knocking down an airplane in flight, particularly if it’s a U.S. carrier, particularly if it’s full of mostly U.S. folks.”

Kelly added that Homeland Security planned to “raise the bar for … aviation security much higher than it is now,” and spoke of “new technologies down the road,” though declined to offer any details.

Any expansion of the ban will force millions of plane passengers to either pack their laptop and other devices into their hold luggage, or, if they’d prefer not to risk damage or theft by placing it in their suitcase, leave them at home.

There’s been much debate as to how putting laptops in the hold would diminish a bomb threat, and how, with so many lithium batteries packed together and out of sight, the security policy could even be a fire hazard.

Dubai-based Emirates, one of the airlines affected by the current ban, has sought to reassure passengers flying with electronics by introducing a kind of VIP service to take special care of laptops, tablets, cameras, and portable DVD players that have to be checked in. It’s also handing out Microsoft Surface tablets to select passengers so they can continue to get work done during a flight.

If Homeland Security goes ahead with the expansion of the ban, we can expect other airlines to follow Emirates’ example, though such VIP services will likely do little to alleviate the annoyance felt by passengers forced to fall into line.