Update: Laptop Ban on Flights From Europe “Likely” But Not “Imminent”

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

Following a new meeting this week between security officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the European Union (EU), reports indicate that an expanded laptop ban is “likely” but not “imminent.”

CBS News reports that the meeting took place Tuesday, after which  DHS spokesperson Dave Lapan said that, while a final decision has not been made, an expanded ban is taking shape that is “likely” to contain a “substantial increase in the number of airports to include major airports in Europe.”

At the same time, Reuters reports that Lapan said there was “nothing imminent” that would require an immediate decision to expand the laptop ban, and that there has been no discussion on expanding the ban to domestic flights within the U.S. or those leaving the United States.

Lapan told Reuters that the U.S. would give airports at least the same four-day notice it gave to airlines and airports in the Middle East before the first ban was introduced.

Meanwhile, the United States is testing heightened screening of electronics at 10 airports, Bloomberg reports. In a new program that’s been in place for the past year, passengers at certain screening lanes have been asked to send large electronics, including tablets, through X-ray machines separate from their carry-on bags. That heightened screening may now be extended nationwide.

Expanding the current ban on laptops and other large electronic devices in airline cabins to include flights from Europe has been under discussion for some time. This week’s meeting follows a meeting in Europe last week, after which multiple conflicting reports surfaced in the consumer media on the expanded ban’s future.

If implemented, an expanded laptop ban would have a big impact on the travel industry, according to recent research. In a recent survey by the Business Travel Coalition (BTC), 79 percent of travel managers said that they would reduce travel to the United States, Europe and through European hubs should such a ban be instituted. Similarly, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) has forecast that the laptop ban, and other policies like the Trump administration’s travel ban, as well as political instability following the Brexit vote, could lead to a $1.3 billion loss in travel expenditures in the United States this year.

In the meantime, travel agents can keep an eye on the list of 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa currently affected by the ban 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 further updates to this developing story.

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