An Expanded Electronics Ban Is Off The Table For Now (Apparently For Real This Time?)

Two months ago an electronics ban was put in place for flights from the Middle East to the US. Since then we’ve heard an endless amount of speculation about this ban being extended to flights from Europe to the US, and possibly even to flights departing the US. The story has changed by the day.

I don’t think that’s a function of the sources lying, but rather I suspect it reflects the fact that the government has been going back and forth on this. I also suspect that the DHS counterparts in Europe have played quite a role in trying to talk the US out of this.

Of course I’d hate to see this implemented, though it’s almost rather that I’d just like to know what’s going to happen one way or another, so I can plan around it. It would greatly impact how I travel, so I hate making future travel plans without knowing what the situation is.

While I suspect this is still very much subject to change, Politico is reporting that US Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly had a conference call today with the European Home Affairs Commissioner and Transport Commissioner regarding an expanded electronics ban, and that they’ve agreed not to institute one for now. According to the story:

“No ban,” a Commission official said. “Both sides have agreed to intensify technical talks and try to find a common solution.”

The U.S. side took into account European concerns about the safety implications of storing devices with lithium batteries in aircraft cargo holds, a source with knowledge of the conversation said.

The decision not to impose the ban could change based on future intelligence, another source said.

While this is subject to change and ultimately refers to unnamed sources, this does seem credible, as it’s at least based on the conversation that John Kelly allegedly had with his counterparts (which is more credible than past references, which have referred to unnamed sources citing unnamed decision makers).

Here’s to hoping the US maintains this position for more than a couple of days…

(Tip of the hat to Brad B)

Comments

  1. I think a good decision. Obviously security agencies need to review their practices from time to time. But based on probabilities experienced, it looks like the risk of lithium batteries catching fire in the hold is bigger than explosives being carried inside a laptop. The number of devices catching fire is far higher than the one case (Somalia) in which a laptop was used as an explosive device.

  2. That’s excellent news – let’s hope it’s off the table for the indefinite future. Slightly off topic, a friend owns a business that trains dogs for explosive detection. To say that this is a growth industry would be an understatement. He can’t keep up with the demand.

  3. Is it safe to assume that US cannot convince EU that the threat is real and therefore a ban is required? Or maybe to assume that EU agrees that the threat is real but electronic ban is not a solution?

    Or maybe just a move to discomfort passenger of ME3?

  4. If DHS is so concerned just increase scrutiny on laptops. Maybe even waive/lower it for GE members.

  5. So lithium ion batteries can go in the hold coming from the Middle East, but not from Europe. Filtering out the flamboyance, all that is left when looking at this administration is simple incompetence.

  6. Just read online at aero.de that according to sources in DHS the laptop ban is not off the table and still could be enforced. The talks with the EU officials apparently never explicitly stated that the ban would be off.. what a mess.

  7. I’m far more likely to die in a car accident on the way to the airport than to die in a plane brought down by a bomb in a laptop.

    And I’d like to believe that increased screening for explosives would be far easier to institute than a complete ban on laptops.

  8. “While this is subject to change and ultimately refers to unnamed sources, this does seem credible, as it’s at least based on the conversation that John Kelly allegedly had with his counterparts (which is more credible than past references, which have referred to unnamed sources citing unnamed decision makers).”

    Sounds just like “Weapons of Mass Destruction” from GW. Don’t be such a sheep: history bears out that this is almost certainly complete bull. It’s the Donald’s flavor of yet another scare tactic.

  9. If this bomb is so powerful that it can take an airplane out of the sky, why is it safer in the cargo hold?

  10. Oh thank goodness for this news! Now we can Instagram in peace, haha.

    This wretched policy dropped in Dubai and Abu Dhabi while I was visiting a few months back. After all, that’s a ton of money you’re expecting tourists to leave behind. We figured out a way to get our stuff home (some of us were already taking chartered flights in the area, others shipped home), but it was really a pain.

    A truly great lesson for fellow travelers. Always be ready and prepared for anything to change.

  11. This Trump and his so called administration is such a disarray , incompetent and miss-managed that if it was any private/public company CEO, he will get fired immediately or worse yet put into jail for Russia collusion by him and his family!

  12. @John
    Because the electronics ban was never really meant for safety. It was a big middle finger to EK, EY and QR. Always has been. This talk of an EU ban was all just cover.

  13. @ John

    Eastasia (sic) is not the Middle East

    If you were being sarcastic, however, then well done!

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