Could Electronics Ban Spread To U.S. Domestic Flights?

by Richard D'Ambrosio
Could Electronics Ban Spread To U.S. Domestic Flights?

Photo: Molivolo


It seems almost unthinkable: a flight from New York to Boston where you cannot carry on your laptop. But Frances Townsend, former assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, offered up the possibility at a travel security summit last week.

While speaking at the U.S Travel Association (USTA) event about how Etihad Airways complied quickly to the United States imposed electronics ban by providing travelers with laptops in flight, she asked the industry to consider how it would adapt to passenger needs if the ban were expanded to more flights.

Currently, the U.S. rule applies to outbound flights from 10 international airports in the Middle East. A similar, though slightly different ban, applies to U.K. flights, and Canada recently announced it is tightening security for Canada-bound flights as well.

“What if that happens to U.S. domestic flights?” Townshend asked. “I don’t think that is out of the question. Threats morph over time. Terrorists respond. They reverse-engineer. If that same laptop checked into the belly of an international flight is put in the body of the domestic connection, that’s a threat.”

American Society of Travel Agents senior vice president of government and public affairs Eben Peck agrees with Townshend. “There is a very real chance that the ban on in-cabin electronics on certain inbound flights could be expanded,” he told TMR. “[DHS] Secretary Kelly said as much during an April 5 Senate hearing on border security.”

In fact, Kelly said at that hearing, the effects of the electronics ban are already being felt in the United States, with enhanced screening on international flights. Like others, ASTA is concerned about the balance the country needs to strike between legitimate threats and burdens on the travel industry that could impede travel – or scare away travelers outright.

“While security is and must always be paramount when it comes to air travel, our members have raised a number of questions about the existing ban and its potential for disruption to business and leisure travelers, issues related to checking expensive electronics while traveling overseas and the possibility that it may spread to additional airports/carriers,” Peck said.

On March 31, ASTA sent a letter to Secretary Kelly asking a series of questions about the existing ban, including how long it will be in effect, the differences between the U.S. and the U.K. bans, the risk associated with checking lithium ion batteries, and other issues.

Threats are morphing constantly
CNN also reported in March that terrorists are developing new bombs that could be hidden in laptops to evade airport security screening.

Townshend suggested that the travel industry think differently, and move the “protective barrier” further away from airports and aircraft. She recommended, for example, that manufacturers of electronic devices sit down with agencies like the DHS to find ways to engineer electronics to reduce the risk of their being used for terror.

  0
  0
Tip of the Day
Daily Top List

Best New York Pizzerias According to Reviews

1. SottoCasa Pizzeria

2. Song’ e Napule Pizzeria

3. Juliana’s Pizza

4. Numero 28 Pizzeria

5. San Matteo Pizza Espresso Bar

Source: TripAdvisor

TMR THIS WEEK
http://services.travelsavers.com/AMGService.svc/REST/GetImage?ImageID=dab35eef-ff9e-e811-853f-782bcb667b27

FOMO Strikes Again! Yep, They Booked It Without You

Should you resist the temptation to unfriend or confront them? Hear the advice of agents who have been there and know how best to handle these unfortunate, but all-too-common scenarios.

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
WestJet Adds Service to Maui, Las Vegas and More for Winter 2018-2019
WestJet Adds Service to Maui, Las Vegas and More for Winter 2018-2019

Canadian travelers will have additional flight options to warm-weather destinations, as well as schedule improvements.

Theft of Alaska Airplane by Employee Exposes Gaps in Airport Security
Theft of Alaska Airplane by Employee Exposes Gaps in Airport Security

Tragic event leads to serious concerns about a loophole in the post-9/11 airport security system, questioning how someone could simply hop into a plane and take off unnoticed at one of the busiest airports in the country.

Air France, KLM, and Air Europa Explore Joint Venture
Air France, KLM, and Air Europa Explore Joint Venture

Air France-KLM and Air Europa are examining an expansion of this agreement to include a wider range of operations in tandem.

New York City Votes to Cap the Number of Uber and Lyft Drivers
New York City Votes to Cap the Number of Uber and Lyft Drivers

With a vote by the New York City Council to freeze new vehicle licenses, the Big Apple became the first major American city to reign in rapidly expanding ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft.

TSA Nixes Proposal to Eliminate Screenings at Small Airports
TSA Nixes Proposal to Eliminate Screenings at Small Airports

According to reports, the proposal was never under serious consideration.

Sabre Adds American Airlines and Others as Partners for Beyond NDC Launch
Sabre Adds American Airlines and Others as Partners for Beyond NDC Launch

Some of the travel industry’s major players collaborate to establish NDC-enabled solutions that go beyond shopping and booking.

News Briefs
TMR Report Cards
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: Norwegian Cruise Line