With reports suggesting the airplane cabin laptop ban may soon expand from flights originating in eight Middle Eastern and African countries to parts of Europe, it's clear that our computers have now joined the list of things we have to worry about when flying. However, some big questions remain: Why now, and why are laptops considered OK in a plane's cargo hold but not in its cabin? Laptops have been a key feature of international travel for years, with passengers in both business and economy classes tapping away on long flights to get work done or pass the time. As the administration of Donald Trump considers forcing certain travelers to check laptops into cargo holds, thus risking cracked screens and possible fires, it is reasonable to ask what's changed -- and if this is anything more than security theater. CNN reported in March that an unspecified al Qaeda affiliate was in fact working to disguise explosives as laptop components.
Both domestic and foreign airlines operating flights into the U.S. from more than 280 airports around the world will be subject to new passenger screening and security measures, both in planes and airports, a senior DHS official said. Laptops and other devices larger than cell phones will be allowed back on those flights if airlines follow the new rules.
The United States might ban laptops from aircraft cabins on all flights into and out of the country as part of a ramped-up effort to protect against potential security threats, US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said on Sunday. In an interview on "Fox News Sunday," Kelly said America planned to "raise the bar" on airline security, including tightening screening of carry-on items. "That's the thing that they are obsessed with, the terrorists, the idea of knocking down an airplane in flight, particularly if it's a US carrier, particularly if it's full of US people." Washington imposed restrictions, in March, on large electronic devices in aircraft cabins on flights from 10 airports. Kelly said the move would be part of a broader airline security effort to combat what he called "a real sophisticated threat."
It's crunch time for McConnell after he is forced to delay Senate healthcare vote Tougher airport screening but no laptop ban for flights headed to U.S. Crunch time for McConnell after he is forced to delay Senate healthcare vote for at least 10 days Some in conservative media raise concerns about proposed GOP cuts in medicaid Trump succeeds where Obama failed - spawning a new wave of liberal activism Senate healthcare bill would add 22 million uninsured and raise costs for poor and sick, Congressional Budget Office says Tougher airport screening but no laptop ban for flights headed to U.S. No new laptop bans, but travelers to the U.S. will face tighter screening all over the globe Homeland Security officials said Wednesday they will order stricter passenger screening and other new security measures for all flights entering the United States but will not bar laptop computers in carry-on luggage as airlines and passenger groups had feared. The new order will cover about 2,000 flights a day from 280 airports in 105 countries, a move that could make international flying even more onerous just as the busy summer travel season starts. Security officials would not detail the new measures but said passengers headed to the United States will face more intensive screening at airports, and probably more security dogs. They gave no date for when the new procedures will start. If carriers don't implement the measures effectively, Homeland Security still may ban laptops, e-readers and other electronic devices larger than cell phones from cargo holds as well as passenger cabins.
We've been hearing for months that the TSA might increase domestic airport security measures this summer (they've already done so for international flights coming into the US), and now those procedures are here. The TSA is requiring "travelers to place all electronics larger than a cell phone in bins for X-ray screening in standard lanes." This program has been tested at 10 domestic airports and is now being implemented across the country. TSA Acting Administrator Huban A. Gowda specifically mentions laptops, tablets, e-readers and handheld game consoles as being subject to extra scrutiny. It's important to note that they don't specify size here; as phones get larger and tablets get smaller (not to mention laptops), it's unclear what devices the TSA considers "larger than a cell phone."