No Blanket Laptop Ban For U.S. Flights Coming But Enhanced Security Measures To Be Implemented

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U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials have announced that a blanket laptop ban for all flights to the U.S. is off the table but that stricter security screening measures would be adopted instead.

U.S. officials have mulled about the possibility to expand the current restrictions on computers and larger personal electronics from high risk countries for weeks but have now decided to go for a less intrusive method for remaining origins.

Travelers and airlines alike feared during the past months that the government would expand the restrictions to all flights going to the U.S. which would undoubtedly have lead to a slump in bookings, especially those of business travelers and people who simply aren’t comfortable of checking their electronics in.

When the rumors first broke in late April John wrote an article about it (access here).

In the meanwhile the established ban on electronics likely paired with other factors of a slowing demand for U.S. travel in general have lead various airlines (especially the ME3) to cut capacity.

Today the Washington Post (access here) reported that the blanket ban was no longer a consideration but that DHS would require stricter screening methods of electronics from airports worldwide.

U.S. officials on Wednesday announced enhanced security and screening measures for all commercial flights to the United States but backed away from a proposal to expand a ban on laptops and other electronic devices — unless airlines and airports refuse to comply with the new rules.

Since March, passengers on flights to the United States from certain primarily Muslim-majority countries have been prohibited from bringing electronic devices larger than a cellphone on board with them. But those restrictions could be lifted if the affected airlines and airports adopt the new security protocols, officials said.

Department of Homeland Security officials said airlines and airports will be responsible for implementing the changes and communicating new procedures to the traveling public. Officials declined to offer specifics about the changes, citing security concerns, but said they could include enhanced screening of laptops and smartphones and increased security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas. …

Despite talk of expanding a ban on laptops and other large electronic devices that was put into place in March, senior DHS officials said Kelly ultimately concluded that the threats could be handled without an expansion of the ban. …

However, airlines and airports that do not comply with the new requirements could face repercussions, including a full ban on all personal electronics on board flights, even in cargo; fines and possible loss of their permission to fly to the United States.

In other words traveler can expect more security theater again at airports around the world and not only for U.S. bound flights but all departures since most airports have no way to separate a specific area of their terminals exclusively  for U.S. departures and it wouldn’t be practical either way.

The DHS (see their website here) published further details in the meanwhile.

In light of evaluated intelligence, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly has determined it is necessary to implement enhanced security measures for all commercial flights to the United States.  These measures, both seen and unseen, include enhanced screening of passengers and electronic devices as well as heightened security standards for aircraft and airports.

  • Countries: 105
  • Airports: 280 (approximate number as it will vary based on seasonal airports)
  • Total airlines: 180
  • Average daily flights: 2,100
  • Passengers: 325,000 average daily passengers

The enhanced security measures include but are not limited to:

  • Enhancing overall passenger screening;
  • Conducting heightened screening of personal electronic devices;
  • Increasing security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas; and
  • Deploying advanced technology, expanding canine screening, and establishing additional preclearance locations.

Over the course of the next several weeks and months, DHS/TSA will work with aviation stakeholders to ensure these enhanced security measures are fully implemented.  Those stakeholders who fail to adopt these requirements with certain timeframes run the risk of additional security restrictions being imposed. …

Since no further details and timelines have been announced yet we’ll have to keep monitoring the announcements and see what news on the policy and technology side of the matter are waiting for us.

Conclusion

While travel in recent years became somewhat convenient again with expedited and established security measures, trusted traveler programs and other measures it appears we’re going backwards now and making it harder again for people to fly.

Let’s see if the measures against the ‘high risk countries’ that are currently in place are being rolled back once they have implemented new security measures on their side.

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  • Flyboy

    In other words, “We’re going to make your starting of your journey as difficult as possible as we can ban you from taking anything onboard”

  • AK

    Its about money- and the new contract from TSA.