As reported last week, the U.S. is seeking to expand its current electronics ban on laptops and other devices on international flights. The current, controversial electronics ban covers flights to the U.S. from 10 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Morocco. An expanded electronics ban would include flights from Europe as well.
The expanded electronics ban appeared imminent last week, but is now on hold while the U.S. and European Union discuss it in detail. Reports indicate that a meeting will take place this Wednesday. Beyond that, there is no real sense of when (or if) the expanded electronics ban will take effect. It’s clear, though, that the EU is trying to stall implementation.
This back-and-forth puts travelers in a very difficult position. The Department of Homeland Security has released few specifics on the expanded electronics ban. DHS has not said if the ban will focus on major hubs like London, Paris and Frankfurt, or if it will include all airports in Europe. The agency has not said when it will implement the expanded ban, or released an outline of what the actual restrictions would be.
Travelers flying during the next few weeks could find themselves scrambling to accommodate new and potentially confusing rules. Heck, some airlines are confused.
The electronics ban is highly controversial for several reasons. Critics question its necessity and believe the inconvenience imposed on passengers far surpasses any potential gains in security. Further, there is concern about lithium-ion batteries overheating in the cargo hold and potentially causing fires. In short, it’s a very restrictive policy with questionable efficacy.