Photographer: John Moore/Getty Images

U.S. Seeking Ways to Head Off Full Laptop Ban on Airline Flights

  • Enhanced human vetting, tighter equipment screening considered
  • Homeland Security in talks with airlines, other nations

Enhancements in the way airports outside the U.S. conduct screening may be enough to head off a ban on large electronic devices slated to cover broad areas of Europe and other regions, an official said Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is still considering expanding a ban on laptops, tablets and other devices that began March 21, but is in talks with airlines, airports and other nations about steps that can be taken to ensure security, spokesman David Lapan said at a press conference.

U.S. officials will be meeting with other nations in Malta in the coming days and have also been in discussion with carriers, Lapan said. While specific security measures are classified, Lapan said they revolve around getting better data on travelers and ensuring that screening of electronic devices is sufficient, he said.

“There are certainly potential steps that could be taken and that’s the nature of the discussions that we’re having now,” Lapan said.

Homeland Security began a ban of laptops and other large electronics from airliner cabins on March 21 for flights to the U.S. from 10 Middle East and North Africa airports, and has since been considering whether to expand it. The ban was prompted by intelligence indicating terrorist groups may be capable of concealing bombs in the devices. The electronics can still be carried in checked bags.

Some nations provide information on the identity of travelers to the U.S. that is considered more reliable, he said. That can help ensure that passengers are adequately checked against watch lists.

Lapan declined to provide details of how the additional security methods would work.

DHS Secretary John Kelly said in testimony June 7 before the House Homeland Security Committee that the U.S. is considering expanding the ban to U.S.-bound flights from 71 airports. They are located in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Lapan said.

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