Thousands Of Flights Could Be Affected By Proposed Laptop Ban

By Dominic Fracassa and Benny Evangelista
San Francisco Chronicle

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The ban that is being discussed would force travelers to get rid of their carry-on laptops on flights from 10 airports in Africa and the Middle East.

San Francisco Chronicle

Reports that U.S. security officials are considering banning laptops from the cabins of flights from Europe is spurring concern among business travelers and industry groups.

The proposed carry-on ban, currently under consideration by the Department of Homeland Security, would expand a similar policy the agency implemented in March that keeps electronic devices larger than phones out of carry-ons in flights from 10 airports in Africa and the Middle East.

The agency cited intelligence indicating that terrorist groups could try to smuggle “explosive devices in various consumer items” as the reason for that ban.

Widening the ban to flights from Europe to the U.S. — at the cusp of the major summer travel season — has prompted travel industry organizations to urge federal officials to leaven their concern for security with flexibility in order to minimize disruptions to travelers.

For business travelers making regular treks between the U.S. and Europe, the ban would be a “huge inconvenience,” said Andy McLoughlin, a partner at SoftTech VC in Palo Alto.

Previously, while running a company with offices in the U.S. and Britain, McLoughlin said he sometimes flew to and from Europe every three or four weeks.

“There are tens of thousands of entrepreneurs coming from all over the world to do business, and this would make their life really tough,” he said. “You’re coming in to do business. The fact that you can’t do anything on that plane ride is kind of ridiculous.”

The ban could also directly conflict with rules that companies and other organizations put in place for business travel. Some employers specify that laptops and other devices containing sensitive information be kept as carry-on luggage at all times.

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