Washington, D.C. — Just days after the third terrorist attack in as many months in London, England. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) along with support for the United Kingdom’s Security Service, MI5 are preparing to extend its laptop and tablet restrictions to airports throughout Europe that directly service both the U.S. and U.K. airports. This latest security crack-down has the potential of affecting as many as 400 international flights a day and poses nightmarish logistical challenges to the multitude of airlines servicing close to 30 million passengers traveling internationally.
The restrictions on laptops announced in March, including on flights originating from airports in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, came amid fears that a concealed bomb could be installed in electronic devices taken aboard aircraft. Now just days after the terrorist knife attacks in London, Homeland Security wants to extend the restrictions to 71 European airports. The Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly in a briefing with the U.S. House of Representatives states that DHS is “looking right now at an additional 71 airports” and explained that DHS is “also looking at ways that we think we can mitigate the threat without expanding the ban.”
Britain quickly followed suit with restrictions on a slightly different set of routes.
Kelly said many countries are working to not be added to the ban list by improving screening to “detect this very sophisticated device.” He called the danger real. “This is a very serious constant threat to knock down an airplane,” Kelly said. Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan declined to identify the 71 airports that are under consideration. Any move to restrict carrying larger electronics to the cargo hold of aircraft has potential safety implications related to past problems with laptop batteries. Kelly said he is reviewing those concerns.
The UK ban on large electronic devices being carried in cabin luggage affects direct inbound flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. The devices covered by the ban are laptops, tablets and phones which are larger than a typical smartphone.
Source and feature image courtesy of: REUTERS/Srdjan Zivulovic/Illustration