A few months ago, the FAA and TSA said that laptops were becoming the choice tool of terrorists to blow up aircraft. Panic ensued, passengers were pissed, nothing bigger than a smart phone can be in the cabin. You were assured of imminent doom should anything with a battery come aboard a plane with you because someone would use it to blow you out of the sky.
Fast forward to today…..
Laptops shouldn’t be in checked luggage, they’ll spontaneously combust and become little terrorist devices that will blow you out of the sky. Laptops and similar electronics must be brought aboard the aircraft if you are to survive that flight to Munich. If you check your laptop, you don’t stand a chance of getting to your destination. You’ll die in a plunging fireball…….
A little too much? Sure. But according to the FAA and ICAO, laptops apparently have no business being inside of checked luggage.
In a report released by the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) during its recent gathering in Montreal on October 27, it supports the FAA’s conclusion that packing a large electronic device into checked bags poses a substantial fire threat to an aircraft.
The FAA begun testing laptops inside of luggage after the TSA imposed a ban on electronic devices being brought into the cabin in the summer of this year. At the time of this new TSA policy, no testing had been carried out to merit the safety of checking electronics equipped with large, volatile batteries into the cargo hold. During the FAA testing, it was found that when a moderate heat source was added to a laptop inside a suitcase packed with other items such as clothing and items containing liquids, 1 out of 5 laptops showed ‘thermal runaway’ that could potentially ignite the laptop.
According to the testing, the most alarming discovery was what happened when the battery ignited causing other items in the suit case to catch fire. Suitcases containing things such as aerosol (dry) shampoo, nail polish remover, hand sanitizer and other similar items that contain even trace amounts of alcohol resulted in the complete burning of the suitcase which led to adjacent luggage also catching fire.
In the situation with having flammable liquids in the case with a ‘runaway’ battery, the FAA conducting 4 additional tests with a ‘runaway’ battery. 3 of the 4 tests resulted in a fire causing full destruction of the suitcase and spreading to other pieces of luggage in the cargo hold. 1 test had the fire contained inside the suitcase without any damage to outside pieces.
With all this said, it now appears that the ICAO is prepared to issue an edict to its member airlines to add Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) to the list of hazardous materials that are banned from checked luggage.
We should see this change take effect in the next few weeks since no one is opposing the FAA’s findings or the recommendation to ban laptops in checked bags.
The State Department announced on Monday that it had lifted Laptop restrictions on flights departing Saudi Arabia, marking the final country and cities that were impacted by the months old ban.
With Monday’s announcement, Jeddah and Riyadh were removed.
For all of the airports that were impacted the ban, they have until July 19 to increase screening for explosives. In addition, the airports have 120 days into install other screening techniques in order to be compliant with rules imposed by the TSA and State Department. Otherwise the ban will be put back in place on non-compliant airports.
Homeland Security this morning removed two more airports from it’s ‘Laptop Ban’ list.
Going forward, Passengers flying on Emirates or Turkish or on other carriers flying from Dubai or Istanbul to the USA will no longer have to check their Laptops. This comes after Homeland Security confirmed that heighten screening of electronics devices is in place at airports in Dubai and Istanbul (Ataturk).
The announcement come three days after restrictions were lifted on Etihad Airways’ hub Abu Dhabi International Airport.
Due to the ban, Emirates had reduced capacity by 20%, so it seems likely that they will now bring that capacity back to their 12 US destinations.
This now brings the list of ‘Banned’ airports to 7. Cairo, Casablanca, Riyadh, Jeddah, Doha, Amman, and Kuwait City remain on the list. Abu Dhabi was removed late last week, allowing Etihad passengers to once again bring their laptops aboard their US bound flights.
It shouldn’t be too long before all 7 are compliant and the ban disappears altogether.
US Homeland Security announced on Sunday that it has lifted restrictions that prevented passengers from boarding with their electronic devices on Etihad flights that depart for the USA from Abu Dhabi.
Homeland Security confirmed that the airport and airline now meet stricter screening requirements and have immediately been removed from the list. I suspect that Abu Dhabi was the first to meet the criteria because Etihad already has customs and immigration pre-clearance in place for US bound passengers. It is the only airport in the Mid-East with this capability.
The remaining 9 airports/cities including Amman, Kuwait City, Jeddah, Riyadh, Istanbul, Cairo, Casablanca, Dubai, and Doha remain on the banned list. It appears as though many of them will be removed in the coming weeks as Homeland Security confirms security compliance from these airports.
Homeland Security today released a one page synopsis highlighting their focuses for enhanced screening for passengers traveling to the USA.
Rather than transpose the text released by the agency, I’ve copied their summary below.
It’s fairly straight forward. 280 airports in 105 countries will subject passengers to additional scrutiny including extra screening of electronics.
Their release did not indicate which airports would be subject to the extra security. This comes as great relief to many of us who feared the worst as far as not being able to bring electronics aboard certain flights.
From Homeland Security:
Change to Global Aviation Security Requirements
In light of evaluated intelligence, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly has determined it is necessary to implement enhanced security measures for all commercial flights to the United States. These measures, both seen and unseen, include enhanced screening of passengers and electronic devices as well as heightened security standards for aircraft and airports.
- Countries: 105
- Airports: 280 (approximate number as it will vary based on seasonal airports)
- Total airlines: 180
- Average daily flights: 2,100
- Passengers: 325,000 average daily passengers
Enhanced Security Measures and Timeline
The enhanced security measures include but are not limited to:
- Enhancing overall passenger screening;
- Conducting heightened screening of personal electronic devices;
- Increasing security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas; and
- Deploying advanced technology, expanding canine screening, and establishing additional preclearance locations.
Over the course of the next several weeks and months, DHS/TSA will work with aviation stakeholders to ensure these enhanced security measures are fully implemented. Those stakeholders who fail to adopt these requirements with certain timeframes run the risk of additional security restrictions being imposed.
International Flights Bound for the United States
These enhanced security measures will help to secure all commercial flights departing from 280 airports that serve as last points of departure to the United States.