The United States is preparing a widespread laptop and electronic ban on all flights between Europe and the United States. This frivolous ban will expand on the current Middle East electronics ban. Sources say the U.S. will announce the new ban on laptops in carryon luggage on May 11, 2017.
The exact details are still unknown. If the ban is similar to the earlier ban, expect all carryon electronics larger than a cell phone to be restricted. This includes camera, e-readers, tablets, personal dvd players, and laptops. Sources are saying the new ban will affect all carriers, including US and European flag carriers. Flights departing from the United States will allow electronics in carryon bags. Meanwhile, all inbound flights from Europe will ban electronics in the cabin.
The Reasoning for the Ban
The electronic ban is going to keep airliners safe, right? Maybe… One thing we do know is it is actually hurting air travel and instilling more fear into the traveling public. Even the IATA calls the ban ineffective! Yet, with new intelligence, DHS says the ban is necessary. After all, European airport security isn’t as good as TSA. Or at least that is what this ban implies.
Over the last couple of years there have been a couple of random plane bombings. The Department of Homeland Security is now saying al Qaeda has a proof of concept and that proves the need for this ban.
Information from the raid shows al Qaeda’s successful development of compact, battery bombs that fit inside laptops or other devices believed to be strong enough to bring down an aircraft, the sources said. The battery bombs would need to be manually triggered, a source explained, which is why the electronics ban is only for the aircraft cabin not checked luggage.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security publicly cited two attacks on flights in the last two years, the downing of a Russian jet over the Egyptian Sinai in October 2015 and an attempt that nearly succeeded in bringing down a jet that had taken off from Mogadishu, Somalia last year and made an emergency landing after an explosion ripped open its cabin. The insurgent group Al-Shababb claimed credit for getting a laptop onboard the flight that had been rigged as a bomb.
“Since they weren’t high enough, the explosion wasn’t catastrophic to the plane and they were able to land,” one source told The Daily Beast. “The bomber got sucked out of the hole, but it was proof of concept.”
The electronic ban is good for no one. It will make flying more uncomfortable and will hurt business travelers. I spend hours on my laptop on most flights, as do many other travelers. Business travelers are likely to cut their travel or seek other routes to ensure they can travel with electronics. Many corporations also ban employees from checking laptops due to confidential information on laptops. I expect these travelers to fly via Canada or Mexico instead of on a direct flight to the U.S.
Furthermore, it’s hard to fathom that storing hundreds of laptops with lithium batteries in the cargo hold is safe. Does anyone remember the two 747s which both crashed in Dubai and Seoul due to lithium battery fires? Those two crashes are the exact reason why Lithium batteries are banned as cargo.
The travel ban will hurt all airlines. Middle Eastern airlines have already been suffering from the current electronic ban. Since the ban, Emirates has cut service to the United States by nearly twenty percent! The cause, the electronic ban has dampened business travel demand.
Middle Eastern airlines have implemented creative electronic check systems at boarding and even have loaner laptop and iPad programs. If this ban actually happens, it will be interesting to see what major carriers such as Delta, United, Lufthansa, and British Airways will do to fight the ban and keep business travelers connected.
Does this proposed ban change your travel plans? I know I have a flight in a few weeks, and I am just happy I am flying from Europe to Canada before connecting back to the states!