The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is considering expanding its ban that prohibits passengers from bringing laptops and other large electronic devices on board with them when they fly, but a final decision hasn’t been made, officials said Wednesday.
In March, U.S. authorities announced that travelers coming to the United States from eight Muslim-majority countries would no longer be allowed to bring their laptops, tablets and other large electronic devices with them on their flights. Instead, the items would have to be placed in checked baggage. That same week, British officials announced a similar restrictions
Some media outlets, citing European security officials, reported Wednesday that the U.S. ban would be expanded to all flights from Europe and that an announcement would come Thursday.
But a DHS official said Wednesday that was not the case.
“No final decisions have been made on expanding the restriction on large electronic devices in aircraft cabins,” DHS spokesman David Lapan said in an emailed statement. “However, it is under consideration. DHS continues to evaluate the threat environment and will make changes when necessary to keep air travelers safe.”
The original laptop ban was put into place amid growing concerns that terrorists could use laptops and other devices to smuggle bombs on board flights. The prospect was first raised in 2014, and gained traction in recent months among U.S. officials who grew concerned that terrorists had renewed their efforts to create such devices.
No U.S. carriers are subject to the ban, but expanding it to all flights originating in Europe and landing in the United States would change that. Reuters also reported that as part of deliberations, officials are studying how to ensure that the lithium batteries that power some of these devices won’t explode when they are stored in luggage holds.
The current restrictions cover travelers flying directly to the United States from 10 mostly Middle Eastern airports. DHS said the ban will remain in place through October, but can be extended if officials believe it is warranted.
The airports affected include those in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Officials said the airports were selected based on the “current threat picture.”
The British ban also includes some cellphones and smartphones, and includes flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.