Trump Admin Mulls Expanding Electronics Ban

Laptop in use by a woman on plane
Photo by leungchopan/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Trump administration officials are considering expanding the ban on laptops and other large electronic devices in airline cabins beyond the Middle East.

Department of Homeland Security spokesperson David Lapan told Bloomberg that the agency is currently in discussions with airlines and other organizations, but that it hasn’t yet decided on how to proceed.

“The secretary has alluded to the fact that [the ban] is likely to be expanded, but a decision hasn’t been made,” Lapan told Bloomberg.

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Meanwhile, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) met on Tuesday to attempt to craft global guidance regarding the use of laptops and other large electronics in airline cabins, Reuters reports. According to an ICAO working paper, laptops are a greater security risk in the passenger cabin than in the plane’s cargo hold due to the possibility that hidden explosives could be detonated manually. At the same time, the ICAO also noted that there could be a safety risk to staring a large number of flammable batteries in the hold.

News of the potential expansion has drawn criticism from business travelers.

"We support TSA's efforts in securing our airways and believe they should take all necessary steps to do so," GBTA Executive Director Michael McCormick told CBS News. "However, the question remains whether the targeted application of policies banning personal electronics is an effective measure to reduce the risk of terrorism. These policies do impact business travelers' ability to stay connected as well as cause conflicts with existing risk management procedures."

According to a recent study by Expertflyer.com, 40 percent of respondents to an online survey said that they would be directly impacted by the current ban, and of those 40 percent said that they would plan to reroute their itinerary to avoid the inconvenience of having to check their large electronics.

Meanwhile, Middle Eastern airlines have begun to offer laptop loaner programs to mitigate the ban’s impact on business travelers. As of May 10 Turkish Airlines became the most recent airline to begin offering laptops to business class passengers on U.S.-bound flights. It will expand the offering to UK-bound flights on May 12. Qatar Airways and Emirates offer similar services.

Travel agents with clients that might be affected by the ban can keep an eye on the list of airports and airlines affected here. For clients concerned about the safety of their electronic devices while they are traveling as checked baggage, we’ve compiled a list of quick travel insurance tips regarding the new electronics ban to share.

Stay tuned to www.travelagentcentral.com for the latest updates on the electronics ban and other air travel news.

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