U.S and European government officials will huddle on Wednesday as the Trump administration decides whether to ban large electronic devices like laptops on some transatlantic flights.
At the meeting, the two sides will “assess any new threats and work towards a common approach to address them,” an EU official said at a press conference today.
Beginning in March, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security prohibited cameras, DVD players, tablets and other devices larger than a smartphone from the cabins of flights headed to the United States from airports in North Africa and the Middle East. At the time, U.S. officials cited fears that terrorists could turn those tech tools into bombs — so they required passengers to check them in their luggage.
But DHS in recent weeks has contemplated expanding that ban to include countries in Europe, potentially even the United Kingdom. Asked about the potential policy change last week, a spokesman for the U.S. government’s travel agency stressed to Recode that “no final decisions have been made,” but confirmed the idea “is under consideration.”
“DHS continues to evaluate the threat environment and will make changes when necessary to keep air travelers safe,” the spokesman added.
For its part, Europe’s aviation regulators last month raised safety issues with storing devices — many of which contain lithium-ion batteries — in planes’ cargo holds. For one thing, they said, flight attendants wouldn’t be able to “react quickly” to address potential incidents, including fires caused by “spontaneous combustion.”