US may expand laptop ban to European flights: report

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is allegedly considering expanding a laptop ban on certain flights from the Middle East and Africa to include U.S.-bound flights from Europe and the United Kingdom.

CBS News reported Monday night that DHS officials are actively weighing the benefits and possible travel disruptions associated with widening the security measure, with officials regularly meeting with U.S. airlines to discuss the issue.

A decision could be made in the next few weeks, according to the report, which would put it ahead of the busy summer travel season.

“We have not made any decisions on expanding the electronics ban; however, we are continuously assessing security directives based on intelligence and will make changes when necessary to keep travelers safe,” a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) spokesperson said in a statement.

{mosads}The DHS implemented a new policy in March prohibiting passengers from carrying electronic devices larger than a cellphone — such as laptops, tablets, cameras and portable DVD players — onto the cabins of certain U.S.-bound flights. Those items can still be stowed in checked luggage, however.

The indefinite ban applies to 10 different airports in Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Qatar, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

The DHS has repeatedly signaled that the ban could be expanded to other airports and cities.

Senior administration officials said the new security protocols come in response to intelligence that indicates terrorist groups are “aggressively pursuing innovative methods” to smuggle explosive devices onto commercial flights.

The U.S. government has long been concerned about terrorists hiding explosives in consumer electronics and trying to build bombs with little or no metal, but new intelligence may have spurred the recent airline action.

But the electronics ban has worried travel advocates, who fear it will hurt global business and tourism.

A number of Gulf carriers impacted by the policy have come up with workarounds, such as offering loaner laptops on flights or allowing passengers to check large electronics at the gate just prior to boarding.

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