Australian travellers may soon be banned from bringing large electronic devices such as laptops and tablets into the cabin aboard certain international flights, mirroring similar bans already in place by the United States and the United Kingdom on selected routes.
"We are looking at it very closely," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told ABC News today.
"We are taking into account all of the information and advice we're receiving internationally and we're working very closely with our partners. In due course, any announcements will be made formally though the Transport Minister," Turnbull added.
Bans currently in place by the USA and the UK prohibit devices larger than a smartphone – including laptops, tablets, headphones, cameras and DVD players – from being brought into the passenger cabin on certain flights from the Middle East and Africa, with similar bans also tipped for Europe-USA flights.
Instead, these gadgets must be placed into travellers' checked baggage or deposited at boarding gates and returned by the airline after the flight, in what can be a massive blow to the onboard productivity of business travellers, particularly on long international journeys.
It also makes travel difficult for those carrying commercially sensitive or classified information, with many corporate and government policies prohibiting devices which carry or have access to such data from being left unattended and placed into airline checked baggage.
Some airlines already subject to the USA’s bans have begun loaning their own large electronic gadgets to business class and first class flyers for use in the air, with Etihad Airways offering iPads and Qatar Airways loaning out laptops to business travellers.
Passengers can then connect to free inflight Internet to get their work done or can bring their own USB storage device aboard to save or retrieve their work documents.
Security was tightened earlier this year on flights from Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dubai to Australia with added 'explosive trace detection' measures in force at boarding gates in lieu of an all-out ban on laptops and the like.