The Donald Trump administration is considering banning laptops from the passenger cabins of all international flights to and from the US, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said recently.
Kelly, a retired general, was asked if he would expand an existing ban to cover laptops on all international flights into and out of the US.
“I might,” he said.
Such a move would dramatically expand the ban announced in March that affects about 50 flights per day from 10 cities, mostly in the Middle East.
The ban prevents travellers from bringing laptops, tablets and certain other devices on board in carry-on bags. All electronics bigger than a smartphone must be checked in.
The measure applies to non-stop US-bound flights from 10 international airports in Amman, Jordan; Kuwait City, Kuwait; Cairo; Istanbul; Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. About 50 flights a day, all on foreign airlines, are affected.
Earlier this month, sources said that the Trump administration would broaden the ban to include planes from the European Union, affecting trans-Atlantic routes that carry as many as 65 million people a year.
US officials have said that initial ban was not based on any specific threat but on longstanding concerns about extremists targeting jetliners. Kelly said that some people would “never leave the house” if they knew what he knew about terrorist activity.
“There is a real threat,” he said adding that terrorists are obsessed with the idea of downing a plane in flight, particularly if it is a US carrier which is full of mostly US folks.