Europe is bracing for a laptop ban on flights to America

Europe is bracing for a laptop ban on flights to America

Europe is bracing for a laptop ban on flights to America

European airlines and regulators are preparing for the possibility that the Trump administration could ban laptops and other large devices from the cabins of flights from Europe to the U.S.

In late March, both the United States and the United Kingdom introduced strict limitations on the use and storage of various electronic devices for passengers travelling from a slew of Middle Eastern countries. Earlier this year on March 21, the U.S. had prohibited travelers from carrying electronic devices bigger than the smartphone into the cabins of flights taking-off from eight countries. They don't believe it's any safer for electronic items to be in check luggage.

The move, which forces passengers to put their devices into checked baggage, came as counter-terror officials developed concerns that jihadist groups were devising bombs disguised as batteries in consumer electronics.

DHS spokesman David Lapan said no announcement was planned for Friday on whether the US government will expand the ban and that no final decision had been made on expanding the restrictions.

"We'll likely expand the restrictions", Lapan said in a statement.

John Kelly also met with senators from relevant committees today to "discuss numerous DHS activities to protect the homeland", says a DHS spokesperson.

Department of Homeland Security officials spoke with airline industry representatives about the electronics ban on Thursday, according to Homeland Security and industry sources.

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A Capitol Hill source said it would be hard to institute the ban in Europe without expanding it to flights leaving the United States.

A European Union spokeswoman confirmed the call with EU commissioners and transport ministers had been scheduled with Kelly for Friday.

"Just from London-Heathrow Airport, there's about 110 flights a day that fly to the USA - it presents a challenge of how do you do that in a way that is efficient and effective", Pistole said.

Storing laptops in the cargo hold raises another risk: lithium ion battery fires that could create an explosion and bring down an airplane.

Two airline officials briefed on the discussions said DHS gave no timetable for an announcement, but they were resigned to its inevitability.

More than 350 flights a day travel from Europe to the U.S. But, it's not just the airlines that would be hit. Now the ban is possible being extended to Europe, although there has been no official word on the matter. Approved medical devices are exempt, but must go through additional screening.

A French official who was briefed about Friday's meeting said the Americans announced they wanted to extend the ban, and the Europeans planned to formulate a response in coming days.

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