News

U.S. Plans to Expand Laptop Ban

Officials meet to discuss banning laptops and tablets on flights from Europe

May 17, 2017
HENRIK SORENSEN—GETTY IMAGES

Passengers on flights from Europe to the U.S. may soon be banned from using large electronic devices including laptops and tablets.

U.S. and European officials met on May 17 to discuss a plan to expand a U.S. ban on the use of laptops and tablets during flights. The ban would now include flights from European countries.

The current ban, which was established in March, affects about 50 flights per day from 10 cities. Most of the cities are located in the Middle East. The ban focuses on those cities because their machines to screen carry-on bags are not as effective as equipment in the U.S., according to experts. Australia is considering adopting the current ban, and Britain has already adopted parts of it.

Traveling Troubles

The International Air Transport Association, which represents 265 airlines, has proposed more in-depth screening of carry-on baggage before passengers board their flights.

PRESS ASSOCIATION/AP
The International Air Transport Association, which represents 265 airlines, has proposed more in-depth screening of carry-on baggage before passengers board their flights.

If the U.S. expands the ban, it would affect about 65 million people who travel between Europe and North America on more than 400 daily flights each year. Many of the passengers are businesspeople who use their electronic devices for work during flights.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents 265 airlines, opposes the ban. The agency sent a letter sent to both the EU and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in which it said that the ban would hurt the economy and cause passengers a loss of time equal to $1.1 billion. The IATA suggested that laptops and tablets be checked more carefully during pre-flight screenings, instead of forcing passengers to give up their devices. 

Bracing for the Ban

The airlines believe the expanded ban will happen eventually. Last week, officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security met with top executives from the three leading U.S. airlines—American, Delta, and United—to discuss the matter. The airlines are hoping to have a say in how the new policy is put in place at airports, so that passengers will be inconvenienced as little as possible. But Middle Eastern airlines have expressed how they have already been affected by the original ban.

This month, Emirates, the largest airline in the Middle East, said that the electronics ban was one of the main reasons that the company saw an 80% drop in profits last year. The airline said the ban caused many people to decide not to fly to the U.S. Emirates also reported that it faced rising costs after introducing free laptop loans to some of its passengers.


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