Middle Eastern airline says laptops, other electronics to be banned on some US-bound flights – Dallas News (blog)
Updated at 5:40 p.m. Monday with details.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. government is temporarily barring passengers on certain nonstop U.S.-bound flights from eight Middle Eastern and North African countries from bringing laptops, iPads, cameras and some other electronics in carry-on luggage starting Tuesday.
The ban was revealed Monday in statements from Royal Jordanian Airlines and the official news agency of Saudi Arabia.
A U.S. official said the ban will apply to nonstop flights to the U.S. from 10 foreign airports. It was unclear to what countries, airports or airlines the ban would apply.
The official was not authorized to disclose details of the ban ahead of a public announcement and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The reason for the ban was not immediately clear. David Lapan, a spokesman for Homeland Security Department, declined to comment. The Transportation Security Administration, part of Homeland Security, also declined to comment.
Royal Jordanian said cellphones and medical devices were excluded from the ban. Everything else, the airline said, would need to be packed in checked luggage.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly phoned lawmakers over the weekend to brief them on aviation security issues that have prompted the impending electronics ban, according to a congressional aide briefed on the discussion.
A U.S. government official said such a ban has been considered for several weeks. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose the internal security discussions by the federal government.
Royal Jordanian said the electronics ban affects its flights to New York, Chicago, Detroit and Montreal. The Saudi statement said flights from Riyadh and Jeddah would be impacted.
The ban would begin just before Wednesday’s meeting of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group in Washington. A number of top Arab officials were expected to attend the State Department gathering. It was unclear whether their travel plans were related to any increased worry about security threats.
Brian Jenkins, an aviation security expert at the Rand Corp., said the nature of the security measure suggested that it was driven by intelligence of a possible attack.
Another aviation-security expert, Jeffrey Price, said there could be downsides to the policy.
“There would be a huge disadvantage to having everyone put their electronics in checked baggage,” said Price, a professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
He said thefts from baggage would skyrocket, as when Britain tried a similar ban in 2006, and some laptops have batteries that can catch fire — an event easier to detect in the cabin than the hold.
Most major airports in the U.S. have a computer tomography or CT scanner for checked baggage, which creates a detailed picture of a bag’s contents. They can warn an operator of potentially dangerous material, and may provide better security than the X-ray machines used to screen passengers and their carry-on bags. All checked baggage must be screened for explosives.
-By Alicia A. Caldwell
and David Koenig,
The Associated Press