clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Trump administration is threatening to expand its ‘laptop ban’ to all airlines that do not improve security

Airlines must adhere to new security rules, or passengers may not be able to bring large devices aboard.

President Trump Meets With Cyber Security Experts At White House Chip Somodevilla / Getty

The Trump administration on Wednesday threatened to ban laptops and other large electronic devices from any international flight coming to the United States unless the airline meets new security checks, including enhanced airport screening and improved passenger vetting.

Under a policy announced in March, U.S.-bound passengers traveling from 10 airports in the Middle East must store large electronic devices, including tablets and cameras, in their checked luggage, as the Trump administration seeks to address terrorist threats.

Now, however, the U.S. government will also seek to force airlines — regardless of where they operate — to improve their security checks. And if carriers fail to comply, the Trump administration could ban them from stowing such devices even in their flight’s cargo hold.

Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly teased the new procedures during a speech on Wednesday, stressing that the forthcoming measures would be “both seen and unseen, and they will be phased in over time.”

“They will include enhanced screening of electronic devices, more thorough passenger vetting, and new measures designed to mitigate the potential threat of insider attacks,” Kelly said. “We will also lay out a clear path to encourage airlines and airports to adopt more sophisticated screening approaches, including better use of explosive detection canines and advanced checkpoint screening technology.”

Kelly also issued a stern warning to airlines that do not comply: “Those who choose not to cooperate or are slow to adopt these measures could be subject to other restrictions — including a ban on electronic devices on their airplanes, or even a suspension of their flights to the United States.”

The new rules announced on Wednesday come as the Trump administration tries to thwart terrorists that it believes have sought to hide bombs in devices like laptops. Appearing before Congress in May, Kelly emphasized to lawmakers that the U.S. government was closely eyeing “a number of very, very sophisticated, advanced threats.”

The policy hasn’t come without its critics and costs: Safety experts, including aviation regulators in Europe, long have expressed concern about the Trump administration’s approach, fearing that devices with lithium-ion batteries might be at risk of catching fire if they’re stowed in a plane’s cargo hold.

For now, however, the Trump administration has not announced an in-flight laptop ban on trips arriving in the United States from European countries, an idea that the White House had previously considered.

A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to an email seeking additional details.

This article originally appeared on