US likely to ban laptops on all flights from Europe

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The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is "likely" to include the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe in its ban on carrying larger electronic devices, such as laptops, in cabin luggage, a spokesman said.

A homeland security spokesperson said Wednesday that a decision on expanding this in-cabin laptop ban to flights from Europe has not been finalized, but confirmed it is being considered. As NPR's Jason Slotkin reported, the airline cited the Trump administration's bans on travel from other Muslim-majority countries, now held up by the courts, as additional factors in the reduction of business.

Emirates reduced its number of flights to the US following the ban, which led to a decrease in demand for the routes.

DHS spokesman David Lapan confirmed the talks but said no announcement was planned on whether the U.S. government would expand the ban. Passengers on those flights are now required to carry anything bigger than a smartphone in checked baggage.

Privately, airlines are expressing concern about an expanded ban and have encouraged DHS to consider exploring other security measures like Explosive Trace Detection-swabbing all carry-on electronics or deploying CT scanners for carry-on bags.

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Some U.S. airlines already have started making plans to comply with the ban that would prevent passengers traveling to the U.S. from using laptops and other large electronics in the cabin of the plane. Officials are debating whether storing large numbers of electronic devices that take lithium-ion batteries in the cargo hold poses a risk of explosions and airlines have stocked their cabins with fire containment bags into their cabins following an increase in battery fires on board.

Top European Union officials are demanding urgent meetings with the U.S.to discuss the looming ban.

"You need a lot of time to inform them and a lot of time for it to enter people's heads until it becomes a habit", he said.

The U.S. airlines still hope to have a say in how the policy is put into effect at airports to minimize inconvenience to passengers. Here in the USA, deliberations are ongoing, but a decision could come any day.

Some Middle East airlines complained to the International Civil Aviation Organization that they had been unduly penalized by the original 10-country ban.

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