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What the Laptop Ban Expansion Means

19 May 2017

European Union and USA transport and security officials will meet in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss expanding the ban on laptops and tablets to include planes from Europe.

This follows yesterday's four-hour meeting of top officials and experts in Brussels, including Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc and a United States delegation led by Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke.

A European Commission spokesperson says US and European officials are not expected to make a decision Wednesday when they meet to discuss plans to broaden a USA ban on in-flight laptops and tablets to include planes from Europe.

Passengers on flights from those locations to the USA can't carry laptops, tablets or other electronic devices larger than a smartphone in aircraft cabins.

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They discussed "existing aviation security standards and detection capabilities" as well as security improvements "related to large electronic devices placed in checked baggage", it added.

If an agreement is reached, it will raise questions about the necessity for the United States and UK bans on electronics flying in from specific countries. The US had proposed the idea because of security concerns, but airlines opposed the move, and some experts said putting laptops in checked luggage actually posed a bigger concern of their lithium ion batteries igniting. Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke was set to meet Wednesday with the top European Union officials in charge of migration and transportation, Dimitris Avramopoulos and Violeta Bulc.

USA and European officials will discuss Wednesday, May 17, 2017, plans to broaden a US ban on in-flight laptops and tablets to include planes from Europe. "The additional security screening time may require passengers to arrive at airports four or more hours in advance of flights".

An EU source described the meeting as vitally important.

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Pace University management professor Andrew Coggins Jr. pointed out that putting laptops in checked bags "exposes them to theft and damage", and inconveniences business travelers who may also use their laptops during long global flights. The European flights that could be affected have not been announced as details are still being hammered out.

Other groups also spoke out against the laptop ban, including Airports Council International Europe (ACI Europe), which noted that between 60 and 90 percent of European travelers carry a large personal electronic device with them onto a flight.

De Juniac added that the airline industry recognizes "that the U.S., the United Kingdom and other states have compelling reasons to mandate the implementation of countermeasures in response to credible threat intelligence".

The airlines still hope to have a say in how the policy is put into effect at airports to minimize inconvenience to passengers.

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There is still no decision on whether to include European airports in the ban, the U.S official said, adding that it is "under consideration" and that the US reserves the right to unilaterally implement the measure whenever it decides there is an imminent threat.

What the Laptop Ban Expansion Means