21 Mar 2017

US may ban laptops in cabins on some flights

12:37 pm on 21 March 2017

Airline passengers travelling on certain US-bound foreign airline flights could be banned from taking electronic devices into the cabin.

no caption

Items such as laptops would be banned from some US-bound flights under the plan. Photo: 123rf.com

US authorities have told Reuters they were planning the ban in response to an unspecified terrorism threat.

The new rule was expected to be announced as early as today by the Department of Homeland Security, the officials said, adding that it had been under consideration since the US government learned of a threat several weeks ago.

The source said the rule would cover a dozen foreign airlines flying from about a dozen countries, including some from the Middle East, and would include airlines based in Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

The officials did not name the other countries.

No American carriers were affected by the ban, which would involve devices larger than a cell phone, officials said.

Passengers would still be allowed to carry larger devices in their checked luggage.

Royal Jordanian Airlines said in a tweet on Monday that US-bound passengers would be barred from carrying most electronic devices aboard aircraft starting Tuesday at the request of U.S. officials, including those that transit through Canada.

Passengers can still carry cell phones and approved medical devices.

Al Riyadh newspaper, which is close to the Saudi government, reported that the civil aviation authority had informed "airlines flying from the kingdom's (Saudi) airports to US airports of the latest measures from US security agencies in which passengers must store laptops and tablets" in checked in baggage.

Al Riyadh quoted a civil aviation authority source as saying that these measures were from senior US authorities and were relayed to the Saudi interior ministry.

The White House declined to comment.

A spokesman for the US Department of Homeland Security, David Lapan, said the agency has "no comment on potential security precautions, but will provide an update when appropriate.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly called congressional lawmakers this weekend to notify them of the plan, congressional aides said.

In July 2014, the Homeland Security Department stepped up security of US-bound flights, requiring tougher screening of mobile phones and other electronic devices and requiring them to be powered up before passengers could board flights to the United States.

- Reuters