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US Might Ban Laptops On Flights From Europe: Does It Really Make Air Travel Safer?

11 May 2017, 10:39 pm EDT By Carl Velasco Tech Times
The United States might expand its laptop ban to inbound flights from Europe, with an official announcement as early as this week, reports say. Here’s why the laptop ban barely ensures passenger safety.  ( David McNew | Getty Images )

The United States is considering whether to expand its ban on most carry-on electronic devices — any gadget that's larger than a smartphone — to include U.S.-bound flights from Europe as well, and possibly even the UK, as reports suggest.

Laptop Ban To Expand

The ban, which is presently in effect for U.S.-bound flights from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa, is a move to clamp down possible terrorist attacks, and to prevent ill-intent individuals from hiding weapons and bombs inside consumer electronics.

As CBS News reports, Department of Homeland Security officials are currently looking at the pros and cons of expanding the ban. Government officials have been meeting with airlines frequently, and a decision can be expected as early as this week.

 

Since it was announced in March, there have been plans to expand the ban, with the DHS actively discussing the policy.

But discussions around banning laptops had been going on for over a year, according to former TSA officials. This policy is the result of an attack on a Somali airliner last year, in which a man hid a bomb inside a laptop.

Back then, the sense was that a widespread laptop ban would enrage business travelers since they'll be unable to work onboard.

Here's Why The Laptop Ban Makes Sense, And Why It Kind Of Doesn't

For all the disruptions it brings, the laptop ban actually makes sense, if you can try to see it exclusively for its intent to better ascertain airplane security and safety. U.S. airlines at present already employ heavy procedures to make sure nothing gets past security or X-ray checks, but alas, technology sometimes fail.

But why not apply the same philosophy and reasoning for domestic flights? Why only limit the laptop ban to certain airlines of certain countries? Surely terrorist attacks could originate from a diverse array of places, and not just the paltry list presently included in the policy.

It can be argued that the laptop ban doesn't really ensure that terrorist attacks won't happen — it simply ensures that terrorist attacks on "certain flights" won't happen.

The Laptop Ban Poses A Serious Threat

Banning devices larger than a laptop onboard would result to them being checked into the cargo hold of a plane, something the Federal Aviation Administration issues caution about. Placing that many lithium-ion batteries inside the cargo hold could lead to a catastrophic explosion, the FAA said.

For the uninitiated, lithium-ion batteries store a lot of energy in such a tiny package, and they can, though not often, be volatile. Placing them in an area of the plane where fires can go undetected and, more importantly, where they cannot be extinguished, creates another level of potential catastrophe altogether.

In that regard, the laptop ban doesn't really ensure safety — it might even worsen it. But announcements haven't been made. When the DHS talks, expect due coverage, as always.

Thoughts about the potential expansion of the laptop ban to flights from Europe? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!

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