Security

US to head off laptop ban on international flights with revised security requirements

New security measures for certain foreign flights to the US will stop the ban on large electronics from expanding, according to new reports.

On Wednesday, the US Department of Homeland Security announced new security measures for foreign flights to the US that could end the ban on passengers from certain countries using laptops in flight, Reuters reported.

In March, the US banned in-cabin laptop use on flights to the US from 10 airports in eight countries: Turkey, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. The UK issued a similar ban shortly after. Passengers from these nations are currently not allowed to use larger electronics, including laptops, tablets, and digital cameras, in-flight, and instead must pack them in their checked luggage. Smartphones and medical devices are still allowed, however.

The affected airports will require additional screenings for passengers and their electronic devices, to detect possible explosives. If the airlines comply, it will effectively end the ban, Reuters reported. But those that do not implement the new measures will still need to enforce them.

"Inaction is not an option," US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in a news briefing on Wednesday. He also said that he believed airlines would comply with the new screening, Reuters reported.

SEE: Travel and business expense policy (Tech Pro Research)

The new requirements would impact 325,000 airline passengers on some 2,000 commercial flights arriving in the US daily, Reuters noted.

US and European officials told Reuters that the airlines have 21 days to put in place enhanced explosive trace detection screening, and that they have 120 days to add other security measures, including improved screening of passengers. US officials also reported that they want to increase security measures around aircraft and in passenger areas, as well as to expand canine screening.

Kelly had previously said that the laptop ban might be expanded to all international flights entering the US. Some airlines feared that this would cause logistical problems and hurt profits, as many business class passengers use laptops and other electronics in flight—and pay more for their tickets.

Reuters reported that the airlines also said they would likely have to pay for the expanded screening costs themselves, leaving some industry groups concerned.

"The development of the security directive should have been subject to a greater degree of collaboration and coordination to avoid the significant operational disruptions and unnecessarily frustrating consequences for the traveling public that appear likely to happen," said industry trade group Airlines for America (A4A)'s chief executive Nicholas E. Calio, in a statement to Reuters.

Kelly also said that he had a "step by step" security improvement plan that included several processes that would take at least a year to implement, Reuters reported. It remains to be seen if these new security enhancements will greatly impact business travelers.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

1. The US Department of Homeland Security announced new security measures for foreign flights to the US that could end the ban on passengers from certain countries using laptops in flight.

2. The airports affected by the ban will require additional screenings for passengers and their electronic devices, to detect possible explosives.

3. More security improvements are expected to be rolled out over the next year.

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Image: iStockphoto/kasto80

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About Alison DeNisco

Alison DeNisco is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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