Although the shocking passenger-bashing incidents at American and United have mostly upstaged the laptop ban story in recent weeks, another media-focus turnaround may be in the offing.
The Guardian is reporting that U.S. authorities are considering extending the laptop ban on flights from a handful of African and Middle Eastern countries to flights departing from European countries, including the U.K., as well.
The current ban prohibits electronic devices larger than cellphones in the passenger cabins of nonstop flights to the U.S. from airports in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
While security officials have refused to divulge the specific reasons for the ban, it’s understood that it reflects classified intelligence suggesting that terrorists plan to blow up a plane using a laptop-sized device filled with explosive material.
The policy has been widely criticized as being both unnecessary and ineffective. There are already effective security measures in place to detect explosives in electronic devices. And terrorists can easily circumvent the existing ban by using connecting flights, rather than traveling on the affected nonstops.
The same criticisms would apply to flights from European airports, if the ban is expanded to include them.
Reader Reality Check
Would extending the ban be more of a good thing, or more of a bad thing?
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.