Travelers heading to the U.S. from Europe might no longer be able to use the long transatlantic flight to catch up on work, or entertain children with movies or TV shows. That’s because the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is considering banning large electronic devices like laptop computers and tablets from being carried on U.S.-bound flights from Europe.
Such a ban is already in place on U.S.-bound flights from 10 airports in the Middle East.
“[This new ban] would be significant because you’re expanding the amount of countries that the ban would apply to,” says Jeff Price, the owner of Leading Edge Strategies, an aviation security consulting group.
He says DHS must weigh the possibility of a bomb being hidden inside larger electronic devices against the economic impact the ban would have on travelers.
“It’s a draconian effort to try and prevent this particular type of attack because it impacts aviation so much,” he says.
Price says all the ban does “is ratchet up the difficulty” of carrying out such an attack and that there will always be gaps in airline security.
“The problem with this is you’ve just killed business productivity throughout the world,” Price says. “This is fine short-term to stop something that might be headed our way, but long-term this is not a solution.”
He says airports could consider instituting random explosive trace screenings of individual laptops. Airports could also upgrade their screening technology, but this would only be a country-specific fix that would be costly.
European and American officials are scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss aviation security, which leads Price to think the ban will eventually be adopted.
“Unfortunately when stuff like this happens it doesn’t go away right way, sometimes if ever,” he says. “So I think there needs to be a longer-term solution.”
Written by Molly Smith.