During testimony in Washington DC yesterday, Homeland Security boss John Kelly signaled that he is prepared to expand the current Electronics Ban to include 71 airports around the world.
His premise for this threat stems from these 71 airports not meeting the screening standards that are expected of them by US security officials. He declined to say which 71 airports he was referring to.
This list of 71 would most like include the 10 that are already on the list that prevents passengers from boarding with electronics larger than a typical smartphone.
He did say that any airport on the ‘banned list’ would have the opportunity to have itself removed if it upgraded its screening process to the level required by US Homeland Security.
For now, he did not indicated if, or when this extension would be put in place.
With all this said, it appears that Homeland Security may be softening its tone about the ban. As little as 2 weeks ago, rumors started swirling that the ban would even affect flights departing the USA. But in hearing Kelly’s comments yesterday, it appears that an airport may be exempt from a ban if it screens electronics ‘appropriately’. I suspect that most if not all US airports have the ability to appropriately screen electronics, so I’m hopeful that the ban may not be an ‘all or none’ proposition.
This morning during a televised interview, Department of Homeland Security boss John Kelly suggested that not only can an electronics ban be put in place on flights between Europe and the USA, but that it may be expanded to ALL international travel involving the USA.
During his interview, he suggested that Homeland Security and the TSA were looking at ways to ‘raise the bar’ on screening processes and to eliminate potential soft spots in air travel security..
This additional ‘threat’ comes on the heels of his comments on Friday where he did not deny the idea of expanding the Electronics Ban to include flights from the USA to Europe. The original ban threat covered only flights from Europe to the USA.
So now, in the third iteration of Kelly’s strategy, it looks like he’s going to throw a big wet blanket on all international flights operating from and to the USA.
At this point, I suspect the ban is inevitable. Kelly has been making way too much noise, and every time he speaks he seems to ratchet up his rhetoric about how laptops will do nothing but blow up airplanes. He also quipped that if Americans knew the kind of risks that are out there, we’d “never leave our house”.
Why not tell us, and let us decide.
I suspect there are no shares of airline securities in his portfolio 😉
In comments made today by Homeland Secretary John Kelly, it appears that not only is an electronics ban imminent, it may extend beyond the original expectation of the ban.
As recently as last week, a group of security leaders and airline officials from several countries had apparently tabled the idea of expanding the electronics ban on flights originating from Europe. Amazing that in a week we can go from “The Idea Is Tabled” to the potential ban being worse than initially advertised.
But now, not only does it appear imminent that a ban on electronics will happen in the not too distant future, it very well may cover flights that originate from the USA.
In his comments Kelly did not commit to the idea nor did he deny the possibility. In fact he was quoted as saying “No, they didn’t misread me” when asked about his thoughts and willingness to include flights from the USA in any ban. What was not mentioned was how far reaching the ban would be and if it would extend beyond just flights to Europe.
The TSA has announced a trial program focused on increasing the scrutiny of electronic devices that are brought aboard aircraft.
The experiment has been quietly launched at 10 airports throughout the USA and requires passengers to unpack any electronic device larger than a phone, and place the devices in a separate screening bin.
The TSA hopes to prove that the increased security measures will not lead to increased wait times at Security Checkpoints. Their belief is that if passengers remove all electronic devices from the bags, it leaves little room for misunderstandings. For example in my own travels, I’ve experienced some airports requiring iPads to be removed, while other airports said iPads could be left in a bag. With one consistent system-wide rule, it might actually decrease screening delays due to bags needing to be rescreened because there are no clear set of rules.
Personally, I’m not sure why the TSA has to go through ordeal of retooling something that hasn’t caught anyone trying to bring an explosive aboard a plane inside of an electronics device. It seems like they are trying to fix something that isn’t broken. I don’t see where anything substantial would be gained as far improving the screening process is concerned. But that’s just me.
For those of us in the PreCheck program, rest easy. The enhanced screening will not apply to PreCheck members.
As of now, the following airports are part of the TSA’s trial and testing of this new concept:
- Boise Airport (BOI)
- Colorado Springs Airport (COS)
- Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW)
- Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
- Logan International Airport (BOS)
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
- Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport (LBB)
- Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (SJU)
- McCarran International Airport (LAS)
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
After a series of meetings in Brussels, involving heads of national security for the EU and USA, as well as airline security specialists it appears that an Electronics ban on flights between Europe and the USA may not be as imminent as we had feared.
In comments made by the group, it appears that there is an increased willingness for airlines to work with one another as well as will government security specialists in order to prevent the ban.
This information sharing included confidential exchange of intelligence between the EU and the Department of Homeland Security in the USA.
Critics of the ban suggest that a ban would cost passengers $1 billion in lost productivity each year and lead to a significant drop in air traffic between Europe and the USA.
According to one meeting participant, it was suggested that the electronics ban was ‘off the table’ at this point and no plans exist for implementing one in the near term.
This same group is scheduled to meeting in Washington DC next week to expand on their discussions. We can only hope that they realize how frivolous such a ban would be and continue to avoid its implementation.