New Laptop Ban Could Target Checked Luggage

Laptop in use by a woman on plane
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After a summer in which a laptop ban grabbed headlines, a new ban on large electronic devices could be in the works – but this time, the ban would apply to electronics in checked luggage.

According to the Associated Press, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has filed a paper with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which sets global aviation safety standards, urging a ban on large electronic devices like laptops from checked luggage because of the risk of fire posed by lithium-ion batteries. In a series of 10 FAA tests, lithium-powered laptops were forced into a “thermal runaway” by a heater, causing large fires. In one test, in which an aerosol can of dry shampoo was strapped to the laptop, the aerosol can exploded, leaded to a fire that officials said could overwhelm an aircraft’s fire suppression system and lead to the loss of the plane. (The aerosol can was of a type that would be allowed in checked luggage.)

The ban proposal is on the agenda for an ICAO meeting this week and the next in Montreal, the Associated Press said. The paper does not say whether or not the ban should extend to domestic flights.

This summer U.S. officials announced a ban on laptops and other large electronic devices to flights from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa. That ban ended in July when the affected airports implemented a new series of security measures aimed at preventing terrorists from smuggling explosives disguised within large electronics onboard airplanes.

Throughout the time this summer’s laptop ban was in place, it drew criticism from a number of travel industry organizations, particularly as rumors of a proposed expansion continued to swirl over the time it was implemented. One forecast from the Business Travel Coalition (BTC) warned that an expansion to flights from Europe could have affected as many as 3,500 flights per week over the course of the summer. According to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the ban, as well as political uncertainty stemming from factors like Brexit and the Trump Administration’s travel ban, could lead to a $1.3 billion loss in travel-related expenditures in the United States this year.

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