That laptop ban may soon get a whole lot worse for plane passengers

FAA suggests a worldwide ban on laptops in checked bags

airline laptop ban extension smartphone plane
Gaudilab/123RF
The U.S.-imposed laptop ban preventing plane passengers on certain U.S.-bound flights from taking electronic devices larger than a mobile phone into the cabin could be getting a lot more troublesome.

As per a paper filed recently with the U.N., the Federal Aviation Industry (FAA) is urging airlines around the world to ban large, personal electronic devices (that means laptops) from checked bags. The rationale behind the decision is that many of these machines’ lithium-ion batteries run the risk of exploding, should they be found in close proximity to aerosol spray cans. And before you say that those spray cans aren’t allowed, consider this: an 8-ounce container of dry shampoo qualifies both as an aerosol can and an approved luggage item. And according to the FAA, this could mean a catastrophic fire that leads to “the loss of the aircraft.”

The FAA recommends that passengers be disallowed from packing laptops and similar devices in their bags unless they have explicit approval from the airline. And apparently, the European Safety Agency, Airbus, the International Federation of Airline Pilots’ Association, and the International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Association, all agree with this recommendation.

This suggestion comes a few months after Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly confirmed the U.S. government was considering a ban on laptops and other devices in the cabins of all international flights to and from the U.S.

Speaking on Fox News Sunday about the security issue, Kelly was asked directly if he intended to extend the ban to flights into and out of the country.

The government official shot straight back with, “I might,” before elaborating. “There’s a real threat. Numerous threats against aviation, that’s really the thing that they are obsessed with, the terrorists, the idea of knocking down an airplane in flight, particularly if it’s a U.S. carrier, particularly if it’s full of mostly U.S. folks.”

Kelly added that Homeland Security planned to “raise the bar for … aviation security much higher than it is now,” and spoke of “new technologies down the road,” though he declined to offer any details.

Any expansion of the ban will force millions of plane passengers to either pack their laptop and other devices into their hold luggage, or, if they’d prefer not to risk damage or theft by placing it in their suitcase, leave them at home.

Update: The FAA is recommending a worldwide ban on laptops in checked bags. 

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