The U.S. announced on March 21 that electronic devices larger than smartphones would be banned from cabins on flights originating from eight countries, impacting global hubs including Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Istanbul.
Kelly briefed members of Congress on Thursday and held a meeting with high-level executives of Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, American Airlines Group Inc and Airlines For America, a trade group. The E.U. officials-Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc-recalled the bloc's longstanding cooperation with Washington on airline security. Now the "laptop ban" targets eight countries in Africa and the Middle East and prevents passengers from boarding commercial flights when carrying devices bigger than a standard smartphone.
The meeting was arranged during a phone call between US Homeland Security Department Secretary John Kelly and European Union ministers on Friday.
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Travellers flying from Europe to the United States are bracing for the impact of proposed security rules to restrict personal electronics onboard aircraft cabins.
The U.S. said it was because of intelligence suggesting terrorists could hide explosives in those larger devices.
USA airlines have in recent days been pushing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to find less disruptive alternatives, according to a source familiar with the discussions.
The expanded ban was first reported by the Daily Beast based on interviews with European security officials. Some airline officials say they would need to hire more staff to impose additional curbs and are anxious about how much advance notice they would have.
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. That could include routinely testing laptops for chemical residues associated with bombs, requiring owners to turn on their devices, and letting frequent travelers keep their electronics with them.
The airlines declined to comment. The New York Times, meanwhile, is reporting that the ban could be extended to all flights to the USA from Europe.
With travelers required to put their electronics in checked baggage, the danger is increased many times over, since a fire will be hard to detect and impossible to extinguish.
Regulators in Europe have issued warnings saying that when so many devices are placed together on a long-haul flight, the risk of a fire starting from a lithium-ion battery that has been poorly deactivated is high. The U.K. implemented a similar ban soon after the USA measure.