US laptop ban could extend to Qantas, Virgin Australia flights

By Bloomberg News, May 29 2017
US laptop ban could extend to Qantas, Virgin Australia flights

US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said he may ban laptop computers in the cabins of all international flights into and out of the U.S. amid continuing terrorist threats to bring down airplanes, but that a final decision hadn’t been made.

“That’s really the thing that they’re obsessed with, the terrorists: the idea of knocking down an airplane in flight, particularly if it’s a U.S. carrier, particularly if it’s full of mostly U.S. folks,” Kelly said on Fox News Sunday.

A DHS spokesman said as recently as May 24 that the agency was not actively considering a laptop ban for international flights leaving the U.S.

The agency, which has barred devices larger than mobile phones on flights from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa since March, has been in talks with European Commission officials about extending a prohibition to U.S.-bound flights from the continent, despite concerns from the European Union.

“It is a real sophisticated threat, and I’ll reserve that decision until we see where it’s going,” he said of when a final ruling might come and what it might be. Kelly’s comments were similar to ones he made at a Senate appropriations hearing on May 25 on the DHS’s 2018 budget request.

Kelly said the department’s Transportation Security Administration “might and likely will” intensify scrutiny of carry-on luggage as well, because travelers are packing more into them to avoid airlines’ bag-checking fees.

“The more you stuff in there, the less the TSA professionals that are looking at what’s in those bags through the monitors” are able to discern about bags’ contents, he said. “What we’re doing now is working out the tactics, techniques and procedures, if you will, in a few airports to find out exactly how to do that with the least amount of inconvenience to the traveler.”

At the same time, Kelly alluded to the possibility that improved bag-screening devices could soon alleviate the need for such strict procedures.

“There’s new technologies down the road, not too far down the road, that we’ll rely on,” he said.

At least four of the largest companies making such devices have said recently they are developing scanners so much better at detecting explosives than existing X-ray machines that passengers could leave laptops, other electronics and even liquids in their bags


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1488

Has anyone any idea what is fuss about? If they can hide explosives in laptop then they surely can activate it in cargo area or I missing something?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Jul 2011

Total posts 186

I was under the impression that the current ban was brought in fearing that many small components could be hidden in many laptops and reassembled once on board in the cabin.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1024

The DHS claim is that ISIS (etc) have found a way to disguise a bomb as a device battery in such a way that it won't show up with current screening tools.

This is just trash. If the xray operators knew what they were doing, they would be able to see the difference in density between a real battery and a bomb. Hand searching a device would likely show signs of tampering (especially with most newer devices not being designed to be easily taken apart and will show clear signs if they have been).
When military/police bomb techs have tested positive to ETD swabs weeks after they last handled explosives, it is clear that traces that can trigger ETD tests can not be removed from devices as easily as DHS suggests.

Thus far, no government agency has provided any real reason why existing methods of screening (xray, ETD, power on) won't work. They just don't want to train the screeners to do their jobs correctly. xrays, with operators who can understand what they are seeing on the screen, increased ETD testing and power on devices is more then enough. There is no reason to ban devices.

The idea that components could get through in many devices and be assembled on the other side of the checkpoint is just as laughable as aspects of the liquid ban. In order to do that, they would need certain conditions, which don't exist where they would be attempting to build such an item.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Jun 2011

Total posts 88

Don't they remember that the last serious act of terrorism was on US domestic flights? This focus on international flights seems, to me, like xenophobic fear mongering

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1024

It would help if DHS hired someone who was capable of thinking.

DHS and TSA have not done a single thing of any worth since they were created.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Mar 2016

Total posts 27

I am flying out on Thursday to US, my concern is what decision will be made whilst I am traveling around catching flights crisscrossing the US.  I intend taking Computer & iPad, won't be happy to put to them in checked baggage. Security at US airports aren't happy if screening machine can't see everything in carry on bag now, I have experienced people having to go back & unpack carry on so they can see contents.  

23 Sep 2015

Total posts 47

Having travelled through Manchester and Zurich in the last month or so, travellers were requested to remove all eletronic devices from carry-on luggage. Laptops had to go in one tray and all others (inc phones) in another with another one for coats etc. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Jun 2015

Total posts 57

Homeland Security itself has reported that the TSA has a 95% failure rate when it comes to detecting guns and other weapons, so why don't they fix that first?

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1024

The only way to fix TSA's failure rates (while still keeping TSA) is to stop their pointless unneeded crap, like the liquid ban and shoe games. Train the staff properly and make them actually do some work instead of playing on their phones all day.

TSA has such high failure rates finding actual threats because they spend all their time looking for things that are not threats, if they are working at all.

If Trump spent more time looking at facts instead of Tweeting rubbish he might see the idea of protecting the American people by banning laptops and iPads is a complete waste of money compared to the loss of life as reported by the BBC on gun deaths:

The home front: So many people die annually from gunfire in the US that the death toll between 1968 and 2011 eclipses all wars ever fought by the country. According to research by Politifact, there were about 1.4 million firearm deaths in that period, compared with 1.2 million US deaths in every conflict from the War of Independence to Iraq.

Given Emirates is reporting a significant drop in travelers to the US i suspect jobs are being lost too due to lack of tourists. 

It doesnt take much to think that if this is real threat then there are others out there who are sadly keen to kill and not muslim. Its only a matter of time. Its either all or nothing

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Jul 2015

Total posts 27

Maybe the solution is to avoid America?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2017

Total posts 1

Still strikes's me as strange that there is an obsession on inbound USA flights when the Fuel load would be at its lowest. 

I do wonder how the USA agencies would respond if other countries applied the same criteria all US carriers coming out of North America.
 Australian security has required laptop removal from carryon bags / briefcases for over a decade. 

25 Jul 2011

Total posts 17

It would be kind of neat if the company manufacturing the new security scanning tech was also the company that had identified the 'serious threat' that electronic devices are to airliners.

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