Reports are spreading on the Internet that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security could be on the verge of announcing a broad expansion of its so-called “laptop ban,” extending it to U.S.-Europe routes. Meanwhile, another airline affected by the ban has started loaning laptops to its business class flyers.
The ban was introduced in late March, prohibiting U.S.-bound travelers on flights out of 10 Middle Eastern and African airports from bringing laptops and tablets into the passenger cabin. The U.K. adopted a similar ban shortly thereafter.
UPDATE: Thursday> US Airlines meeting with DHS about expanding the ban. (Reuters)
According to CBS News, the U.S. is said to be considering an expansion of the ban to include flights coming to the U.S. from continental Europe and possibly the U.K. Not good news as we enter the peak season for transatlantic flying.
“Government officials have been meeting with U.S. airlines on a nearly weekly basis and intend to do so again later this week. Officials say a decision could come in the next few weeks,” CBS said. CBS got a non-answer from the Transportation Security Administration saying that it has made no decisions on extending the ban, but adding that it is “continuously reassessing security directives based on intelligence” and will make changes if it considers them necessary.
If a ban is indeed coming, perhaps the DHS is giving airlines some time to prepare for such a hit to their operations.
A laptop ban on flights from Europe would obviously pose a major problem for the business travel community, since laptops and tablets – anything larger than a smartphone – would have to be stowed in the hold with the passenger’s luggage (if he or she checked any).
Introducing our complimentary laptop service to US and UK bound Business Class guests who hand over their devices at the boarding gate. pic.twitter.com/aN3vcloggT
— Turkish Airlines (@TurkishAirlines) May 5, 2017
Middle Eastern carriers affected by the initial ban have struggled to keep U.S.-bound business travelers by introducing new services like the option of gate-checking your laptop and picking it up at the destination. They have also started offering loaner devices to business and first class travelers for use during their flight; Qatar Airways, Etihad and Emirates all started doing so more than a month ago.
This week Turkish Airlines has started a similar loaner program for U.S.-bound business class flyers; it will extend the offer to U.K.-bound flights on May 12.
Maybe you don’t want to be traveling internationally with electronic devices these days anyway– read this post to find out why
Despite those programs, Middle Eastern airlines are taking a hit in bookings. Emirates announced a few weeks ago that it is cutting flight frequencies on five U.S. routes.
If many travelers are booking themselves from the Middle East to the U.S. via connections in Europe to avoid the laptop ban, what will they do if it is expanded? Canada does not currently impose a laptop ban… would it make sense for Americans to travel to/from Europe via Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal?
Readers: What would you do if the U.S. bans laptops and tablets from the passenger cabins of U.S.-bound flights from Europe?
Interesting: Here’s what started these rumors flying– a tweet from a brainy 20-year-old aviation enthusiast from the UK. In comments he states that the announcement could come from the White House by this Friday.
Breaking: The air travel #ElectronicsBan is preparing to be extended to ALL flights from Europe to USA, coming into effect in a few weeks.
— Alex Macheras (@AlexInAir) May 8, 2017