The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will reportedly ban laptops on all U.S.-bound flights from Europe amid increasing concern over terrorists trying to hide explosives in consumer electronics.
European security officials told the Daily Beast that the new protocols will be announced Thursday, just ahead of the busy summer travel season.
The DHS has been considering expanding the current ban on large electronics on certain flights from the Middle East and Africa, and officials have been reportedly meeting regularly with U.S. airlines to consider the impacts of such a move.
“No final decisions have been made on expanding the restriction on large electronic devices in aircraft cabins; however, it is under consideration,” a DHS spokesperson said in a statement. “DHS continues to evaluate the threat environment and will make changes when necessary to keep air travelers safe.”
The DHS initially imposed the electronics ban on inbound flights coming from 10 different airports in Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Qatar, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.
Under the policy, passengers are prohibited from carrying electronic devices larger than a cellphone — such as laptops, tablets, cameras and portable DVD players — onto cabins of select flights, but can still stow the items in checked luggage.
The Daily Beast reported that it’s unclear whether the European ban will include tablets, however.
Senior administration officials said the new security protocols come in response to intelligence that indicates terrorist groups are “aggressively pursuing innovative methods” to smuggle explosive devices onto commercial flights.
The U.S. government has long been concerned about terrorists hiding explosives in consumer electronics and trying to build bombs with little or no metal, but new intelligence may have spurred the recent airline action.
The electronics ban has worried travel advocates, who fear it will hurt global business and tourism.
A number of Gulf carriers impacted by the policy have come up with workarounds, such as offering loaner laptops on flights or allowing passengers to check large electronics at the gate just prior to boarding.