US likely to expand airline laptop ban to Europe, officials say

Kids watch a laptop screen at Pearson International airport in Toronto

Kids watch a laptop screen at Pearson International airport in Toronto

No U.S. carriers are subject to the ban, but expanding it to all flights originating in Europe would change that.

Dutch Airline KLM says it is "closely monitoring developments and will make adjustments when necessary". As we know all too well, lithium-ion battery fires are a common thing, and if a laptop was to catch fire while in the cargo hold, no-one would be able to put it out.

An industry-backed group, the Airline Passenger Experience Association, said the US government should consider alternatives. Will you be checked at security for devices in correlation to your ticket - as many passengers will pass through the same security area who are not travelling to the US?

"We're expecting something to happen, we're just not sure exactly what or when", said a senior executive at a major European airline.

Two airline officials briefed on the discussions said DHS gave no timetable for an announcement, but they were resigned to its inevitability. "We'll likely expand the restrictions", he said.

The US authorities are set to ban laptops from carry-on baggage on all flights from Europe and the United Kingdom, with an announcement expected as early as today, according to reports.

Roughly 40% of overseas travelers to the US come from Europe, crossing the Atlantic on more than 350 flights a day. Approved medical devices are exempt, but must go through additional screening.

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Alarm bells are already ringing in Europe, however. United Airlines shares were trading down 1% in NY.

A spokesman for the European Commission said that "the United States and the European Union have a long-standing and fruitful cooperation on security" and the commission had approached the U.S. "to continue to pursue that cooperation".

For now, USA officials are remaining tight-lipped on possible changes.

US airlines say they still hope to have a say in how the policy is put into effect at airports to minimize inconvenience to passengers.

But that argument hasn't won over the industry.

British Airways referred calls to the U.K. Department for Transport, which said it doesn't discuss security measures or comment on speculation.

A United States ban on now ubiquitous laptops could cause havoc with more than 3,250 flights a week scheduled to leave European Union airports for the U.S. this summer, according to industry data.

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