US Secretary of Homeland Security Gen. John Kelly revealed in an interview over the weekend that the US might expand its current laptop ban to all flights into the US in the near future.
“I might,” said Gen. Kelly yesterday on Fox News Sunday. “There’s a real threat. There’s numerous threats against aviation. That’s really the thing they’re really obsessed with, the terrorists, the idea of knocking down an airplane in flight, particularly if it is a US carrier, particularly if it is full of mostly US folks.”
Laptop ban currently affects users in eight countries
The laptop ban came into effect on March 21, this year, when the DHS prohibited travelers from ten airports in eight countries from taking laptops, tablets and other larger electrics devices in carry-on bags. All such devices must now be checked-in with regular luggage.
The initial ban applied to passengers boarding US-bound flights from Amman, Jordan; Cairo, Egypt; Kuwait City, Kuwait; Istanbul; Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
On the same day, the UK put up a similar travel ban. During the two months following the ban, US officials have mulled the idea of expanding the laptop and tablet embargo to airports in Europe.
While very few travelers were affected by the initial laptop ban, there was always a rumor that the US would expand it to all countries. Airlines expected the ban to expand, and experts said the ban was only in its early roll-out stage, meant to get travelers used to the idea of increased security checks.
Many travelers hate the ban because it would make it harder to work or pass their time on long trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific flights to the US.
More TSA manual inspections of carry-on bags
Furthermore, in the same interview, Gen. Kelly also revealed plans for increased security screenings. The Secretary of Homeland Security said that because passengers are packing so many objects into their carry-on bags, it’s become harder for X-ray and other screening machines to view inside travelers’ bags.
TSA officials will likely expand the practice of asking passengers with densely-packed bags to empty their carry-ons for manual inspection by a TSA agent.
Below is the Fox News Sunday interview with Gen. Kelly. The part about the laptop ban and increased TSA screenings is after 09:10 minutes into the video.