The Latest On The Inevitable Electronics Ban Expansion

For a few weeks now there have been rumors of a new electronics ban being introduced on flights from Europe to the US. This new restriction would apparently mirror the policy that has been in place for flights from the Middle East to the US since late March.

Etihad-Wifi

Earlier this week reputable sources started saying that the electronics ban would be announced for flights from Europe to the US this week, and on Wednesday European security officials further clarified that the White House would be announcing such a ban on Thursday.

Heck, yesterday Delta erroneously put out signs at Cincinnati Airport suggesting that the new restrictions were in place effective immediately. Even though Delta claimed this was an error, clearly that information came from somewhere.

So, it’s now the weekend and there’s still not an announcement, so what exactly is going on? Is the electronics ban off the table, being reconsidered, or what?

Why the electronics ban may be delayed

If I’m reading into the situation correctly, I think what’s happening here is that the government is realizing that unilaterally imposing this restriction with no advance notice or consultation of other governments or airlines won’t end well for them. I suspect they had the intention of implementing this as of May 12 (which would explain why Delta printed signs to that effect), but that they got pushback from the major US airlines, foreign governments, etc.

When they imposed this restriction on flights from the Middle East, it exclusively impacted foreign carriers, and it’s not like the current administration has an issue with putting policies in place that impact people traveling from that region.

So it sure seems like the US had the intention of instituting this without much further thought, but the pushback is causing them to at least consult airlines and other countries on the implementation.

Per the Associated Press:

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security organized a telephone conference with “key European partners” — France, Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy. It will be a ministerial level call. The French attendee is expected to be Louis Gautier, secretary general for defense and national security.

A French official with direct knowledge about Friday’s meeting said France planned to push back against the measure, saying there was no information to suggest a significant increase in the terror threat. Friday marks the final working day of the current French administration. The official spoke only on condition of anonymity to discuss the plan.

Two airline officials who were briefed on the discussions said Homeland Security gave no timetable for an announcement, but they were resigned to its inevitability. They spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the meeting publicly.

Is the expanded electronics ban inevitable?

It sure looks like it, unfortunately. If they’re going to put this into place, I at least hope they think long and hard about the implementation. They did a horrible job implementing the new policy for flights originating in the Middle East, and this is on a whole different level, given the amount of traffic from Europe to the US.

There are so many questions about the logic of such a ban. On one hand I hope that foreign governments and airlines can talk some sense into the current administration. On the other hand, I suspect they’ve made up their mind, and the only thing on the table is exactly which electronics will be banned, how soon it’s being implemented, exactly which flights are impacted, etc.

Even if you’re someone who 100% agrees with the implementation of this and values security theater above all else, I’m sure you’ll at least agree with some of the questions I have:

  • Isn’t there a way that laptops and other electronics could be swabbed for explosives residue and tested before the flight, rather than banning them from the cabin entirely? Many airports already require you to power up electronics and even swab them.
  • Isn’t there an increased risk of a fire in a cargo hold from having all the electronics there, without an easy way to access them?
  • Why doesn’t the electronics ban include flights from the US? Forget hidden explosives — in tests the TSA has missed over 95% of weapons and explosives that were brought through the checkpoint? Shouldn’t fixing the ineffective TSA be our first priority?
  • Why only limit this to flights from Europe and the Middle East, and not include flights from Latin America, etc.?

It’s not often I say this, but I think Qatar Airways’ Akbar Al Baker is spot on:

Here’s to hoping this policy is reconsidered… unfortunately I’m not optimistic.

Comments

  1. I’m having a hard time coming up with a dumber policy than this one. It’s so stupid on so many levels.

  2. “I hope that foreign governments and airlines can talk some sense into the current administration”

    HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

    That’ll be about as effective as Richard Feynman lecturing a baboon.

  3. Hey Lucky just wanted to point out a small word error in the article. Feel free to delete my comment after, I won’t be offended lol. I’m sure you meant to say “looks like it.”

    “It sure like it, unfortunately. If they’re going to put this into place, I at least hope they think long and hard about the implementation.”

    Have fun with your travels!

  4. “Talk some sense into the current administration?” This is a very arrogant statement.

    Unless your privy to classified meetings with the Department of Homeland Security, the CIA, NSA, and the FBI how do you know what kind of threat this is? Maybe it’s an attack where swabbing or having them turn on the laptop is entirely moot with the explosives they intend to use? How do you know that maybe the ban on laptops out of the Middle East did actually prevent a terror attack?

    I really think you’re way out of line pondering whether this decision should be implemented or not without being privy to classified intel only the government has knowledge of. You’re simply a blogger who travels a lot. You don’t have the foresight to know what kind of threat this is in any way, shape, or form. You’re just upset you’ll be inconvenienced. That’s not a good enough reason to risk everyone’s lives.

    The US government would not just blindly decide to ban laptops on incoming planes from Europe because they feel like it. You know they have some very credible intel telling them that the next terror attack planned will be using a laptop in the cabin. Otherwise they wouldn’t be going to such extremes. I usually agree with you, but what you’re saying here is ridiculous. To somehow imply you can be the judge of this, and why this should or should not be implemented is preposterous. And please don’t come back and tell me how great European security is when terror attacks have now become commonplace in France, Brussels, Germany, and other major European hub cities every other month. Just look at the swell job Schiphol employees did at apprehending the underwear bomber. Oh wait…

    This is obviously a very credible threat for the US government to be acting this way, and we shouldn’t play games with people’s lives so a few businessmen can have their laptops in the cabin to watch movies. Safety is always, and should always be the number one priority when it comes to flying.

  5. Last time I was in Israel they were very thorough in checking my laptop. They took me to an isolated area, checked the condition of laptop screws, opened the laptop, turned it on, x-rayed it, looked inside the air holes, swabbed it, etc. – all while making me stand next to it (to see my facial expressions or to assure if it exploded I would self deport?) That was the gold standard of inspections. The process took several minutes. Based on this experience I would expect major delays if all laptops were thoroughly inspected.

    “Isn’t there a way that laptops and other electronics could be swabbed for explosives residue and tested before the flight, rather than banning them from the cabin entirely? Many airports already require you to power up electronics and even swab them.”

  6. Wow Abe. You’ve drunk that DHS koolaid, haven’t you?

    If their ban from the ME stopped someone, you better believe that would be all over the news and the Orange clown would be taking full credit for it.

    I’m pretty sure the US government had solid intel of WMD when they invaded Iraq, right? Oh…wait….that’s right, they didn’t. And look where we are today.

  7. I also think your questions are silly, but I will answer them:

    “Why doesn’t the electronics ban include flights from the US? Forget hidden explosives — in tests the TSA has missed over 95% of weapons and explosives that were brought through the checkpoint? Shouldn’t fixing the ineffective TSA be our first priority?

    Why only limit this to flights from Europe and the Middle East, and not include flights from Latin America, etc.?”

    1. The TSA is a deterrent, plain and simple. Not to mention, we have our intelligence services here in this country who can keep tabs on people actually flying within our country. And so far the TSA has been very effective in the stop of terror attacks for the last 15 years. As far as missing 95% of test runs, yes this should be addressed at some point and fixed. That doesn’t mean you ignore current imminent threats.

    2. There are no radical Islamic groups in South America that are performing terror attacks every other month. Europe has been infiltrated by radical Islamists, hence all the terror attacks. So it’s easy for a terrorist to get on a plane from that continent using a false identity, just like the November 2015 Paris attackers were able to blend in with Syrian refugees. It would be very hard, without someone raising a flag, for an Islamic extremist to travel from ISIS/Yemen/Middle East/Europe without raising red flags.

  8. You ask the key questions, Lucky. The U.S. government assumption seems to believe that a would be terrorist can only get on a plane with a laptop at certain airports in the Middle East and now apparently Europe. I would really have serious doubts that “intelligence” demonstrates that. The Europeans, the Canadians, the Australians, the Japanese, the Israelis, have good intelligence agencies and they do not seem to agree that this electronics ban is called for. My default assumption thus is that the current U.S. Administration is just ramping up security theater.

  9. “The US government would not just blindly decide to ban laptops on incoming planes from Europe because they feel like it.”

    Donald, is that you?

  10. “This is obviously a very credible threat for the US government to be acting this way, and we shouldn’t play games with people’s lives so a few businessmen can have their laptops in the cabin to watch movies. Safety is always, and should always be the number one priority when it comes to flying.”

    It is far from obvious. Reactive security theater has long been the theme for DHS and TSA.

    Why should safety be a higher priority for flying than for driving or any other activity? In the US, driving results in about 30,000 deaths a year and millions of injuries. It would take many decades for flying to come close from any cause, let alone terrorism. Should we slash speed limits and otherwise impose massive costs to cut traffic fatalities?

    Are the lives of flyers that much more important than the lives of drivers?

  11. “…fixing the ineffective TSA…”.

    Remind me, how many flights have been brought down at the hands of terrorists as a result of the “ineffective TSA”. since 9/11? TSA was established after 9/11……..

  12. Also to address swabbing laptops. You don’t know the intelligence services information, and you don’t know what the explosives are that are going to be used by the Islamic terrorists. It’s possible that swabbing would be totally moot, and the explosives these radical Islamic terrorists are using cannot be read by any swab machine. This could be the intel intelligence services have. At this point, all we layman can do is wonder what the intel is the government has.

    The bottom line here is you and I just don’t know any of the details, or any of the classified intel, or any information to make an educated decision. All you know is, aside from you, many people will be inconvenienced. Well oh well… I’ll take that any day over my plane being blown up out of the sky.

  13. I am far from an expert, but couldn’t a terrorist just as easily use the new policy against us, rigging several checked laptops to catch on fire at the same time and bringing a plane down that way? I think enhanced security makes so much more sense. Have a separate line and anyone who wants to travel with large electronics has to arrive early and wait as long as it takes. Don’t put everything in the cargo hold where it’s impossible to put out a fire once it starts.

  14. Abe I hate to say this but the reason Europe has been having terrorist attacks isn’t lack of Information its migrants I’m not saying every migrant is a terrorist its just you can’t tell who is who if the US were in Europe I’m extremely confident they would have been attacked being an ocean away helps and you think you have credible security per say the TSA the statistics are shocking so I don’t get what you mean by privy to information.
    The US have touted they have information on terrorist’s plans what that tells me if I’m a terrorist is to change my method of attack so its basically given up freedom for “security”

  15. @DaveS, how do you know other countries intelligence services disagree with the US government on these decisions? Are you also privy to classified homeland security meetings like Lucky?

    @Bob, you’ve just created a straw man which has absolutely nothing to do with the arguement here. Let’s focus on keeping our skies safe. An imminent threat involving a laptop has been gathered by our intelligence services and we should take it seriously.

    Even though this has absolutely zero to do with the conversation, yes the government does make inconvenient measures too to keep people safe on the road hence cellphone laws (I wanna text), speed limits (I wanna go as fast as I can), seatbelt laws (i don’t wanna put on my buckle), legal drinking limit (I wanna drink whatever I want and drive) etc etc…

  16. I think we should just simmer down. Whether you think it is theater or effective, the bottom line is that they know there is a threat of bombs being in laptops. The Somali bomber showed it was possible. If it happens again without any measures being taken, we will all be screaming…”why didn’t they do something, they knew it had happened before.” That is just how it goes. Some idiot puts a bomb in his shoes once and now for the rest of time, we all have to take our shoes off. Someone puts hydrogen peroxide in a soda bottle, now we all have to pull our liquids out forever. C’est la vie.

  17. If the threat was really serious the government would’ve implemented it without floating the idea around and debating it with airlines and other agencies.

    Sure, someone could use a laptop as a bomb, it’s a risk. But the solution needs to be tighter security–make people show that their laptop works, swab it for explosives, etc.

  18. @Olabisi yes if America was in Europe a terror attack would have occurred, but that’s also assuming we made the same dumb decisions as the EU and let migrants flow in without any documentation. Also btw, they do have a sea that separates them, they just send their coast guards off the coast of Italy to shuttle the migrants into Europe. Their coast guards have become a shuttle service.

    The TSA statistics of them not finding 95% of items in the test run is shocking, yes. But the fact still remains there have been zero terrorist attacks on their watch in 15 years. That’s not to say we can’t improve the TSA, obviously that problem has to be addressed, and we should do it. But it’s a totally separate from this issue. The TSA can’t find 95% of test runs, so therefore we should ignore an imminent terror threat that’s going to occur on a laptop? I don’t see the logic there. They are not mutually exclusive.

  19. Abe+10

    What is wrong with some of you!- You can not live without your laptop for less than a day?—if you died on an airplane targeted by a terrorist –your family would be screaming –why the Govt -did this or do this or that to prevent

    like someone said – when was the last AMERICAN OR AN EUROPEAN AIRLINE
    better safe than sorry

  20. For a tourist (like me) spending some time in the USA in July, it’s just a very very sad move from the US government !

    I don’t care about laptop as I’m coming for business, but I NEED my camera as a tourist and I’m not ready to let my nice DSLR in a bag that will be shaken, thrown on the tarmac and possibly stolen by flight personnel who will have a very nice way to steal things as they will be sure they are now ice electronics in every bag !!

    Had I known about this electronic ban when I booked my flight, I would have chosen another country ! The world is beautiful and if the USA don’t want your tourist money anymore, I’m sure that plenty of other countries are willing to get it.

    I’m 100% sure this is pure paranoïa and a way to repel foreigners ! If not, there would be a ban on EVERY flight on the planet, as there is a ban on liquides.

    If the US apply this, I really hope that Europe will do the same for every US flight coming in. Maybe your US flight companies will not be so happy if they loose their business traveller too !!

  21. DXB-SYD-LAX. Still many ways in like that. No re-screening?
    DHS needs to publish new airport security requirements that US supposedly already meets and ask for that to be implemented.

  22. I’m a little confused – why is placing laptops and tablets in checked luggage safer than in carry-on? If they contain potentially undetectable explosives wouldn’t they actually get less examination in checked luggage….? Maybe the question is why allow them on airplanes at all, under any conditions??

  23. @Abe – You appear not to understand a straw man, which is “an intentionally misrepresented proposition that is set up because it is easier to defeat than an opponent’s real argument.”

    Your proposition is that we should “focus on keeping our skies safe”.That’s precisely the argument to which I’m responding. I’m asking why we should care more about keeping our skies safe than keeping our roads safe. With an average of well under a hundred aviation deaths and over 30,000 driving deaths a year, auto safety would seem the more dangerous activity, worthy of more attention. Obviously existing efforts at auto safety have not been adequate.

    “An imminent threat involving a laptop has been gathered by our intelligence services and we should take it seriously.”

    We have no way of knowing whether this is true. All we have is news stories about a possible ban on laptops in airplane cabins, requiring them to be checked, and claims that explosives could be hidden in laptops (which could easily be true, explosives might be hidden almost anywhere).

    It’s worth noting that many countries ban lithium batteries from checked luggage, due to fire risks. The rumored US policy is to put more lithium batteries into checked luggage.

  24. Didn’t anyone else notice that Delta’s sign doesn’t properly describe the proposed expanded ban? It does NOT ban electronics OTHER THAN a cellphone. It bans electronics LARGER THAN a cellphone. Are they deliberately trying to sow confusion?

  25. @Abe
    You are asking if Lucky has direct information from intel soureces on these cases. So I ask, do you? It might not the first action of this administration based on “alternative facts”. If European intel had information like this, there would have been action here in Europe already. You can be sure of that.
    Concerning the effectiveness of TSA, how many assaults have been on flights from Europe to the US since 9/11? So EU security can’t be worse than TSA. And with an electronics ban it still would be possible for a terrorist to bring his explosives to the US (or buy them there regarding the ridiculous weapons laws) and use them on a TATL flight TO Europe. So the question, why ban only flights TO the US us a very good one.

  26. hilarious!

    “If we continue this way, at the end of the day, you will have people sitting in their underwears, and nothing on them”
    – His Excellency, the ME comedian

    I have offered to do this in the past – to avoid the nude o scope. The UK is militant about sending people thru it.

  27. If this is a real threat and not just intel agencies having a fun time rattling our cages, then there’s no reason Europe would be the only affected origin. Flights from the USA can be just as dangerous as flights to the USA and flights within the USA are also just as vulnerable.

    And there’s no reason to allow laptops in the cargo hold if they’re dangerous. Other than poison gas, there’s no danger that wouldn’t be just as able to destroy a plane from cargo. Some, like fire, are more dangerous as cargo.

    So a total ban of laptops both in the cabin and in checked luggage for both domestic and international flights is the ultimate goal here. Let’s see how far they get.

  28. @MM “t the end of the day, you will have people sitting in their underwears, and nothing on them”

    Actually, underwear bombing is a proven threat. Get ready to wipe down that seat before you use it; you don’t know whose naked sweaty hairy butt was in it last.

    In business class, fancy airlines will provide disposable airline-branded and TSA-approved underwear for high value pax to enjoy during the flight.

  29. @Rob “the bottom line is that they know there is a threat of bombs being in laptops. The Somali bomber showed it was possible.”

    And yet somehow these same terrorists who are capable of loading a laptop full of electronics are not capable of figuring out how to use their cell phones to detonate a laptop bomb stored in the luggage hold.

    Of course, as long as people continue allow the government to get away with whatever bullshit theatrics they want to convince us we are safe, then this sort of utterly illogical policy will continue.

    Really, the willingness of some people to blindly follow without insisting on a coherent explanation is breathtaking.

  30. Honestly, did I miss where DHS said specifically it was an explosive threat? There are other things you can potentially do with a laptop and an unhardened IFE system:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/internet-security/11011084/Hacker-shows-passenger-jets-are-vulnerable-to-cyber-attack.html

    I sympathize with the frustration over this. I have no inside knowledge to know if this ban is BS security theater, or in response to something real. I suspect most people commenting here with such certainty, one way of the there, actually don’t either.

  31. I don’t think it will happen. Too many large entities (like US airlines) stand to lose major money on this. I assume their lobbyists are working overtime to address it. There are over 2,000 flights per week between the US and Europe. That’s a much bigger impact than a few ME flights.

    As for those who talk about booking via Canada, if the threat is real, won’t Canada impose the same restrictions?

    I am about to book a trip to Beijing for the fall. It’s a 13 hour flight and I book in C so I can work. Thinking of booking via Toronto but seems to me Canada will follow the US on any security restrictions.

  32. @Bob, you have correctly pointed out that as a society we are willing to accept 30,000 highway deaths a year in exchange for the economic and personal values of driving. A 30 mph speed limit would save many lives, but at great costs. We choose not to do that.

    The sad fact though is that TSA security theater is CAUSING highway deaths through unintended consequences. The road fatality rate is 1.25 per 100 million vehicle miles driven. Statistically you are 65 times more likely to die in a 684 mile drive than in a flight that goes 684 miles (the average distance of U.S. domestic flights). How many people choose to drive rather than fly because of needing to get to the airport two hours early, and put up with security restrictions and perhaps endure humiliating searches? For me the decision point is five hours of driving, but I have a back condition. Many people would rather drive more hours than that instead of flying.

    It is hard to measure how many drive primarily because of the hassles involved with TSA, as opposed to or in combination with other reasons, so it’s hard to quantify the number of highway deaths TSA causes. A study by economists Blalock, Cadilai and Simon concluded that, over a three-month period, “approximately 129 individuals died in automobile accidents which resulted from travelers substituting driving for flying in response to inconvenience associated with baggage screening.”

    This would be equivalent to a fully loaded jetliner going down every six months.

    https://mises.org/blog/how-tsa-kills-hundreds-people-every-year

  33. There may be a silver lining to this, particularly for the crowd here. If the impact is a drop in business class travel, on the basis that some short business trips to Europe will simply not allow for enough work time on the flight back. I’m thinking of people who bill by the hour, like lawyers or consultants, where 6-hours of work can comfortably cover the cost of the ticket. And especially if they don’t want to checkin their laptops to the hold with sensitive company material. Then those people may simply choose not to fly.

    That opens up a lot of excess business class capacity across the Atlantic. Airlines can’t easily fill that, except with sales on fares, or making more seats available on (less) points.

    If you want to see some great opportunities to fly across the pond in style, and don’t mind watching the inflight entertainment, then this could be it.

  34. No I don’t have access to the briefings, none of us do. Which is why we shouldn’t ignore safety warnings, or try to decipher for ourselves what they should be. It’s grossly arrogant and irresponsible. We should err on the side of caution, and listen to what our intelligence officials have to say. THEY are actually in the briefing rooms with the intel, and THIS is their job.

    And yes I will follow their directives “blindly” because there hasn’t been a successful airline terrorist attack that originated on US soil since 9/11, so they’re doing something right! Most of you insinuating this is some type of rouse, are naive and frankly it’s scary that you put having a laptop for 12 hours above a plane blowing up.

    Also many of you have childishly said “well flights leaving from the US have the same chance as flights in other places.” WRONG. Look at Richard Reid the shoe bomber. Look at the underwear bomber. They all came from abroad. No attempted terror attack on an airliner has originated in the US since 9/11. Why? Because we have the best aviation security. Let me also remind all of you that September 11 happened in America. America is the most targeted country for these terrorists. Radical Islamic terrorists want to strike America the most, which is why it is the most coveted target, while having the most vigilant security. The reason other intelligence agencies are not issuing the same directives is obvious- terrorists don’t care about striking Japan. They want the US, duh.

    When it comes to airline safety and terrorism I’m not taking any chances. I’m with @Mr.Conservative who said above.

    What is wrong with some of you? You can’t vacate your computers for a lousy 12 hours? Are you that crazy addicted to your laptops? I’m also shocked by the cavalierness of some of you when it comes to this topic. People whose job it is to keep us safe from terrorists, who see the intel, who are in the briefings, are making these recommendations. Do people on here honestly believe they’re just saying it for fun?

  35. @Nick Brett

    Don’t think it’s that simple. It’s not that the business people (like myself) will opt out, it’s more along the lines that regular tourists, both originating in the US and those originating in the EU, will believe that the security risks are too high and decide to stay close to home for their holidays. When that happens, capacity gets cut along with demand and it may or may not be the silver lining one envisions.
    France tourism has taken a big hit following their three major terrorist attacks within about a year. I go regularly on business and haven’t found those hidden gems in terms of cheaper premium fares or saver award space.

  36. Abe-

    “Best aviation security.” You don’t know what you are talking about.

    You do that the 9/11 terrorists first flew to NY/Washington/Boston from Maine, clearing US security there?

    Also, if Europe is that big of a concern, then a terrorist could easily just fly from the ME to the US via Asia. Simple.

    That is why we are frustrated with this nonsensical ban. It makes zero sense.

  37. @Abe you’re not taking any chances yet you’re comfortable with a large amount of electronics in the cargo hold…. it’s too bad it will take an inevitable accidental fire in the cargo area before you change your mind.

  38. Isn’t interesting how “experts” in the security and intelligence communities do dumb things? The ban is to affect flights from Europe to the US but not from the US to Europe? What is the rational behind that? In Europe or the US, it is the same screening. Perhaps, American TSA Agents are more on the ball than their foreign counterparts.

    In any case, I suspect that the answer lies in arrogance trumping (sorry for the pun) common sense. Here is an example. An important expert in the intelligence community with over thirty years of experience makes a phone call to an official representative of a foreign government and seems to forget the fact that the intelligence community has bugged the phone. That one has to go in the category of “dead brain”.

    Dumb things do happen. What about the an air marshal forgetting her weapon in the lavatory of a Delta flight on 6 April? Perhaps the next dumb thing will be a fire in the cargo bay from a laptop that someone forget to turn-off before sticking it into his checked bag.

  39. A lot of people made some comments to me just now, and if you read my last post, it answers and addresses basically everything that was just thrown at me. Someone mentioned a terrorist flying from Europe to Asia, and then going from Asia to the United States. I can assure you that if a terrorist attempted to fly that route, they would get so much scrutiny, US authorities would want to know who they were, and they would probably end up being detained in Asia. The US has a very thorough database of people and they know of everyone coming into the US from abroad on any given day. We have command posts, and watch lists dedicated to this very duty everyday. Before you board a plane bound for the USA, your name is run on multiple terror watch lists allowing you to board or not or whether you’re going to be getting extra screening upon landing. Zz

    I’ll repeat myself again to those who laughed at me that the US has the best aviation security. There has not been a single aviation terror attack (or airport attack) since 9/11. You cannot say that for other countries around the world, and you cannot say that for Europe.

    The advantage of the laptop being in the cargo hold is obviously that a terrorist doesn’t have access to initiating the bomb. Look at the underwear bomber for example. He needed to have access to the things he carried on board in order to actually set the bomb off that were in his under pants. Otherwise the chemicals in his underpants were absolutely harmless. Without him having access to what was in his underwear, it was nothing. Not to mention once a terrorist knows he’s not going to have access to his laptop/bomb, he’s not going to check it in the cargo hold anyway. Also I don’t know about abroad, but cargo baggage in the United States is all screened, quite heavily I might add. I implore people to study that case of the “underwear bomber” (there are some good documentaries on YouTube about it) because I think it’s very relevant in this situation where a terrorist has to have access, and be in control of his explosive device in order to detonate the bomb.

    A lot of people on here also who are posting negatively, or are mad, are European and that is understandable. I feel your frustration. I’m not saying that banning laptops from Europe to the United States is the optimal option, or a good idea. But, what I am saying is your continent is going through some turmoil, hence why you have terrorist attacks every other month. You have migrants coming in, and nobody knows who they really are. You have completely open borders, and as we’ve seen the last few years you do not have a good handle on radical Islamic terrorism, as America does.

    I’ll repeat myself, all terror related aircraft incidents after 9/11 originated outside of the US. Such as Richard Reid the shoe bomber coming from Paris, Brussels airport attack, and the underwear bomber coming from Amsterdam.

    Some of your governments can’t even keep your own countries safe, so how do expect them to keep an airplane safe? Especially Germany, France, and Belgium. You have ISIS fighters running into Europe posing as Syrian refugees just like the attackers in Paris in November 2015.

    Now I’m not saying the ideal solution is to ban laptops between Europe and the United States. Obviously nobody wants that. However, if this was a recommendation by our intelligence services because they had information that an attack was imminent from your continent, then absolutely I would support a ban, and any rational person would support a ban, and should support a ban. If they had information a terror attack from Europe on a commercial aircraft was likely, I don’t think it’s too much to ask to not have access to your laptop for an 8hr flight. Leave these decisions to the United States professionals. They are the reason no further terrorist aviation disasters have occurred on, or leaving US soil. I cannot stress that point enough.

    Also for those of you saying that you hope the EU strikes back and bands laptops for Americans is just plain silly, and childish. This is not some game where it’s tit for tat. If the roles were reversed and European officials had information that they needed to ban laptops incoming from the United States, I would absolutely 100% support a ban. We are talking about the global fight against Radical Islam that we must work together to defeat. If a directive was issued banning laptops between Europe and the United States, I can guarantee you it will be good for good reason.

  40. @Abe

    If there is real intelligence on this, then it should be shared with our partners in FVEY. The UK has implemented a part of it, but isn’t seemingly discussing widening it. Australia, Canada, New Zealand definitely has a large number of flights from the same areas, and seemingly no proposed restrictions. So why do all these other countries look at the same info and not come to the same conclusion?

    Also, it’s offensive to say we shouldn’t be questioning restrictions imposed by the government. It’s appropriate, as a responsible citizen, to ask and discuss why you’re being restricted from doing something. It’s frankly scary to demand blind allegiance.

    With 100% speculation, my assumption of what’s going on here is a refusal to accept responsibility. Two airplanes over the past ~18months related to this — Metrojet 9268 (departing Egypt), and EgyptAir 804 (departing France). Both are suspected to have been caused by laptops that were actually bombs. Batteries can appear suspicious on x-rays, or more importantly, bomb materials can replace batteries on larger devices and appear “normal”. Hence, let’s ban all laptops and (apparently) tablets.
    Now, there are plenty of ways to handle this without a full out ban. But I suspect someone went to a manager with this information and said “it’s possible this could happen, do you want to be the guy that said no and then a plane exploded?” … and repeated that up the chain of command until it became policy for certain mid-east flights and then expanding more.

    There absolutely are ways to screen for this. A basic weight and size restriction, and a requirement that travelers turn on laptops/tablets and show them to be functional would stop this. Banning the giant laptops would have minimal effect for most travelers.. a simple 3lb weight limit with a half-inch width limit would eliminate only a tiny fraction of laptops. And frankly, no way you’re taking out of the case of any tablet or modern lightweight laptop, replacing it with a meaningful amount of explosives, and still are able to turn it on.
    It’s also a joke to think that the hold is somehow better … it’s a bomb, not a knife or gun.

    So yeah, it’s stupid and petty. It will hurt airlines, US tourism, and badly hurt business travelers (who most airlines really rely on). Telling someone traveling for work they have to lose 10+h and risk breaking their laptop is just insane.

  41. –The problem with the electronic ban is a common sense one.
    –Anyone checking a laptop is a serious risk.
    –Why? Because the airlines will lose or break the laptop.
    –Further, it is better they break it than lose it.
    –Why? If they lose the laptop, data security and identity theft would be a big concern.
    –If they break it, then the cost of replacement and potential data loss are the only concerns. [Great way to start a vacation or business trip.]
    –Personally, I am not flying without my laptop with me, in the cabin.
    –My laptop allows me take care of personal and professional business when I am traveling.
    –So, I will avoid flying anywhere there is a ban.
    –If the ban becomes widespread, I will stop flying entirely.
    –I think those planning to implement the ban are underestimating the negative impact on world travel due to the ban and the resultant overall cost to the economy.

  42. @Abe. Everything you say might be correct. Who knows. But at the end of the day, there is no way I am willing to risk checking into a hotel thousands of miles away from home without my laptop. Rather stay home.

  43. To Abe and anyone else who supports the idea that laptops need to be stored in the hold, one word:
    Timers.

    There is no need for a terrorist to be in close physical proximity to a laptop/bomb to make it explode. A tiny timer would do the job. One might ask what if there is a flight delay? Not a problem for the terrorist, because a transatlantic flight takes so many hours that detonation could just be set for 4 hours after expected takeoff, which would compensate for nearly all delays. And if one did go off while the plane was on the ground, it would still instill fear in the public, which would be a partial success for the terrorists.

  44. My guess the reason this hasn’t been implemented yet is that other governments are threatening to impose the same restrictions on flights from the U.S.

  45. You cannot discuss with a paranoid. Most of us here are are right stating common sense. There us no sense in an electronic ban just from Europe. And whatever Abe says, anyone who is allowed to fly EU-US will not be denied flying, only because he/she chooses to fly EU-Asia/Latinamerica-US instead of the direct route.
    Concerning Abe questioning the EU security, there has not been any successful terrorist attack on flights from Europe since 2001 either. It’s also wrong questioning EU security because of the terrorist attacks IN these countries. Since 2001 there have been terrorist attacks within the US, too. So this is no argument for a ban for flights TO the US, only and says NOTHING about the quality of EU airport security compared with TSA…

  46. Abe – You’re incredibly ignorant… If there’s a risk from Europe, there’s a risk from anywhere Europeans can travel to – which is EVERYWHERE. Are you seriously trying to claim that a terrorist trying to blow themselves up on a plane would refuse to take a connecting flight!? “Well I WAS going to blow up the American plane on the way to New York to London, but if I’m going to have to make a connection in Canada or Mexico I can’t be bothered”!?

    @Donna – “Remind me, how many flights have been brought down at the hands of terrorists as a result of the “ineffective TSA”. since 9/11? TSA was established after 9/11……” There have also been no US air-based terrorist attacks since I stopped eating bananas. I suggest you do the same if you want to stop terrorism. Common sense would dictate that if they don’t spot 95% of weapons (not a figure I really buy into), there was no terrorist attack for them to spot in the first place.

  47. Abe – As to your absurd claim that people flying on connecting flights to the US get extreme security vetting – complete and utter rubbish. For starters, the US doesn’t even have to know they’re connecting… Then there’s the obvious fact that if this extreme vetting is good enough to accurately identify bombers, it wouldn’t be extreme, it would be standard.

  48. And in my final comment to the arrogant moron that is Abe, the EU is FAR safer than the US. Something that’s immediately obvious to anyone with half a brain. Your police alone kill more people than terrorists do in the EU… I would invite you to see for yourself, but I’m sure we’d be better off without you and your ilk on the continent.

  49. @Callum – yet in a few decades in Europe you’ve manged to do to Muslim immigrants (packed into slums, no job opportunities, poorly educated, riots) what took the USA 100+ years and slavery to do to blacks.

  50. It’s a good thing that explosives in the cargo hold never caused a crash.. Oh wait, Pan Am 103 was exactly that.

    It’s also a good thing that cargo hold fires from malfunctioning devices never brought down a passenger aircraft. Oh wait, ValuJet 592 happened.

    Let’s look at what has been effective – keeping items in the cabin. Both the shoe bomber and underwear bomber were caught by passengers who noticed something was amiss and in both cases the flights landed safely.

  51. I’m concerned about my electronics.
    We run our company out of state and country. If something is to happen to our laptops while they are checked and we get to our hotels only to find out they don’t work how are we going to be able to prove that tsa plucked up our electronics?
    If they damage our computers while in their care we are so SCREWED. Also without my ipad is screwed to.
    That means more luggage to check in. Granted our checked in luggage is free but I don’t want to have to carry another piece of luggage and hoping that our luggage is well cared for because of our electronics.
    This is so discouraging and I really don’t think they are thinking wisely. The care they will have to have with our luggage I can’t see that happening now that there will be more to throw around.

  52. Many of the insults and comments hurled at me are just flat out false, or lies. I know this to be true because I know what US aviation security is capable of. My background is in aviation security industry, and we have contracts with the government, so it’s funny to be lectured by someone sitting at home spewing nonsense. Go do some reasearch. Someone also stated the EU has the same grip on terror as the US. So that explains all the terror attacks your continent has suffered the past two years. I could not stop laughing. Please tell me where Richard Reid the shoe bomber came from? Paris. Have you heard of the Brussels airport attack? It was in Brussels, that’s in Europe. Do you know where the underwear bomber flew to the US from? Amsterdam. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’m only talking about famous aviation terror attacks. There’s hundreds more that don’t involve aviation that have occurred in the past two years in Europe.

    Many of you obviously don’t read what I write because you parrot things I have already answered, so I’m not gonna waste my time to respond to you individually either if you’re not gonna read what I’m writing. Something I thought was hilarious was some “armchair security expert” on here brought up timers.

    Hate to break the news to you, but the 1980’s are over. Lockerbie, and Air India type bombings cannot happen anymore. If it was so easy to do timers, you don’t think terrorists would have already tried this??? Security has increased a thousand folds since then. Try checking a bomb into the cargo hold. It’s impossible because of the rounds of screening baggage undergoes.

    Again let me just reiterate, and state my point clearly because I don’t think it’s being interpreted correctly. I do not think it’s imperative to ban laptops from Europe to the United States at this time. That being said, I cannot understand for the life of me, why any of you would be against such a policy if an imminent threat was discovered by a few of our intelligence services working together. To give an example, if MI6 and the CIA had proof ISIS was going to use a laptop from Europe, you can guarantee I’d support a laptop ban under those circumstances. Do all of you really need your laptop that badly as to ignore a direct threat? And by the way, to people who say they want to see “proof.” Yeah, I’m sure the CIA and MI6 are gonna go out and publish their classified intel in the newspaper so you can read it, and decide for yourselves. Someone also mentioned about questioning government decisions. I agree with this and don’t see any problem. You should always be questioning government intrusion into our lives. But there’s no motive for intelligence agencies to make up a threat about a bomb in a laptop coming from Europe.

    People who are saying these nasty things to me, have absolutely no idea about our intelligence services and the terror watch list names that are constantly run through over and over again on a daily basis of whose planning to come to our country on multiple databases. The reason the US has to be so vigilant is because we’re are target #1 for them. There’s no place they’d rather hit more than the United States. There’s a reason you go through an interview process on any international flight bound for the US, and its not for shits and giggles.

  53. THE THEATRE OF SECURITY: I flew from TBIT LAX on Monday 8 May. It was clear as I was checking in, that the lines of departing passengers forming down in the departures hall was indicative of a crazy situation upstairs with the Dept of Homeland Security / TSA agents at security.

    So i joined the queue…. and queued …… and queued…… for an hour.

    Just before I arrived at the scanner an agent patrolling the lines told me to take out my liquids and laptop.
    A few minutes later I arrived at the scanner belt and started to take out the laptop and liquids and place them on the belt when a different agent barked at me to put them back in my bag. I told him that the other agent, who was in earshot had told me to take them out. I asked why the confusion. He stone cold ignored me. Barking agent then muttered something to the other agent about last minute regulation changes….

    In all the fluster, I proceeded to the hands up body scanner and realised I had coins in my pocket.
    I took them out and held them in the one hand during the scan. Fully expecting to be hauled aside for a pat down, the body scanner agent simply waved me through.

    It was the most lax and chaotic security experience I have had in a long time. It was clear the TSA was creaking at the seams…. Making up policy on the hoof.

    It’s hard to take any pronouncements from DHS seriously after this experience…..

  54. This will not just impact business travelers but also families who now depend on ipads to entertain their children.
    There is a very simple solution. Airlines can simply shut down until the bureaucrats reverse course. An airline shutdown (like after 9/11) would have a far worse impact than a fed shutdown. If all airlines agree the public outcry would be immense. It is time for airline execs to grow some and put a stop to this nonsense.

  55. @abe
    You are right, personal attacks should not happen on this blog.

    The whole discussion shows that Europeans have become very careful in trusting information of the Trump administration regarding the “alternative facts” given in the past….

    However, I cannot agree with your arguments. You were the first one to mix up aviation attacks with the ones on the soil. Unfortunately you concentrate totally on the attacks in Europe. Yes there have been attacks in Europe, but you “forget” to say that there have been terroristic attacks on US soil since 9/11, too. So this is no argument. Also it is much more difficult to eliminate attacks in a whole country than on a plane.
    If there US intel or MI6 really have information about a possible TATL attack (I have not heard anything about this from UK sources, yet), ban history shows there must have been infomation about an attack possibilty of a ME-US flight first, which now changed to EU-US. Otherwise the ME ban would have been nonsense. As easy as this change possible terrorists could in case of a EU ban switch to Asia/LA-US flights now. From this point a ban just for EU flights does still not make any sense.

  56. @Dave – Some European countries have indeed done that (I’m personally convinced that’s the reason France is especially under attack). I’m not sure how that counteracts the fact that US police kill more though?

    @Abe – If you don’t want nasty insults, don’t spew moronic bile.

  57. I don’t accept that this ban is inevitable. Every US citizen has three elected officials in Congress; now is the time to express your displeasure. Even if your representative is a do-nothing slug, or a lick-spittle Republican (as mine is) they are all acutely aware they need to get re-elected to keep that paycheck coming.

    It only takes a minute to send an email or leave a voice message. It might not work, but doing nothing is certainly not going to get you what you want.

  58. Maybe if the bloggers would stop writing about this the government would let it go.

    Also, I cant imagine in this day and age why ANY laptop isn’t encrypted and backed up on a regular basis. If it happens to be damaged or stolen, no data should be lost or stolen. It might be inconvenient,but it’s not the end of the world like most people think it will be.

  59. @chilangoflyer
    Thank you for recognizing personal attacks are not appropriate. I also appreciate you agreeing to disagree with me in a respectful manner like an adult.

    Let me just say that I never said there were no terrorist attacks on US soil since 9/11. I never said. What I did say was there were no AVAIATION attacks originating, or coming from US soil since 9/11. The same is not true for Europe. Big difference.

  60. Are the airlines going to offer more than just $1500 for lost luggage, since computers with programs can be more than that alone?
    Are airlines going to change weight restrictions (before additional charges) on checked luggage, now that we will have to add additional electronics weight?
    What happens if the airlines lose your luggage that has confidential information, or protected health information? Who pays?

  61. I agree with Steve.
    We all know and have seen how our checked in luggage thrown, dropped, dumped, etc. Buying a pc because of the negligence and or loss of the airlines isn’t something I get a thrill doing. Its a nightmare for me. My time replacing the pc, programs, payroll, etc doesn’t come cheap.

    Backing up a pc doesn’t justify the loss of a computer when the airlines are at fault.
    If my company and work wasn’t important I wouldn’t be traveling with my pc.

  62. I am a professional photographer and travel to Europe for business.
    Counting cameras as electronics and forcing me to put my very expensive cameras in checked luggage will inevitably result in theft and breakage, and if this happens on the way to Europe I will be unable to do my shoots. No one should have to put their camera equipment in checked luggage. If there is concern about laptops, ban laptops, but not cameras. It is hard enough now for photographers to travel with equipment – why make it impossible?

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