As if being confined to a germ-ridden metal tube for hours at a time weren't bad enough already, air travel might soon get a lot more boring. According to CBS News, the electronics ban currently affecting 10 airports in the Middle East could soon be expanded to include other flights bound for the United States, as well. But will electronics be banned on all flights? At the moment, sources have reportedly said that only flights coming into the United States from Europe and the United Kingdom are under consideration — but the ban could still have pretty broad implications for both travelers and airlines.
Romper reached out to the Transportation Security Administration for comment, but did not hear back immediately. However, the TSA told CBS News on Monday that it had not yet reached a decision on the electronics ban, saying in a statement, "We are continuously assessing security directives based on intelligence and will make changes when necessary to keep travelers safe."
Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan reportedly confirmed to Fox News that an electronics ban expansion to "more than a couple" of new regions was under consideration. At the moment, the ban on any carry-on electronics larger than a cell phone applies to eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
There is a valid security component behind the decision to ban larger electronics, for those wondering how a tablet could ever be considered dangerous. Last year, for instance, an explosive device built into a laptop managed to make it through x-ray machines undetected in Mogadishu before it was detonated aboard a Somali passenger jet. The only fatality was the suspected bomber, according to CNN, but the laptop bomb still — understandably — managed to trigger further airport security fears.
There are also, however, several downsides to asking passengers to check laptops and tablets during flights. For solely technical reasons, putting an increased number of lithium-ion batteries in the cargo hold has raised concerns of possible cargo fires. Although lithium-ion fires are very rare, they've been involved in at least 138 aviation incidents over the last 25 years, according to USA Today, making accidental fires a concern to consider.
Larger concerns have less to do with batteries and more to do with passengers and airlines' business, though. Business travelers hopping across the pond for work will likely be frustrated to have their ability to work taken from them, and individuals enduring eight-hour flights are unlikely to be happy to have their electronic entertainment stowed away.
After the Trump administration instated the first electronics ban in March, Emirates quickly announced that it would be cutting flights to the United States by 20 percent, and the airline blamed "recent actions taken by the US government relating to the issuance of entry visas, heightened security vetting, and restrictions on electronic devices in aircraft cabins" for a decrease in passengers headed to the United States, according to The Boston Globe.
The White House is expected to make an announcement about a potential expansion on the ban later this week, according to aviation sources, and further details should emerge as time goes on. For now, though, if you have any flights coming up, make sure you enjoy your laptop use on board while it lasts.