Did the US-EU electronics ban idea really die?

Departing Exeter, England on FlyBe 19 July 2016

Multiple sources are reporting that, following discussions between US and EU officials, plans for a large electronics ban on flights from Europe to the USA are being scrapped. BBC News suggests that the two sides “decided against a ban on laptops and tablets” while the Evening Standard says “the US Department of Homeland Security said the ban was “off the table” for now.” This is arguably great news for passengers and has me holding off on buying a new Pelican case for carrying my electronics back and forth on a couple trips in the coming weeks. But the news might not really be so positive.

My twitter feed this morning included a repost of a story from The Times this past Sunday about the logistics of the ban and what the impact would be to passengers. The author of that piece – somewhat to my surprise – actually replied when I asked about why he’s reporting such a different view from the other outlets.

Perhaps most surprising to me was Pancevski’s willingness to outright state that the reports the ban would be scrapped “are entirely inaccurate” and “wrong.” He’s betting that the ban will still be announced by the end of May.

I guess we’ll see in a couple weeks, but I remain unconvinced from either side. What’s your bet on how it plays out?

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


    1. Indeed. The confusion is already creating problems. Even if no ban is implemented the impact is real. Almost caused me to scrap one trip. Still considering scrapping a second.

    2. I’m not scrapping anything, but it certainly has made me think about how we would handle it should a ban happen, or even worse, happen while on a trip. At the very least, I want to have a plan for dealing with it should it happen, whether that be for Europe, or any other place in the world. Or, God forbid, domestic flights.

  1. Sorry if I missed another post that covers this, but assuming a ban along the lines of the current middle-east airport ban is announced for all international travel (I can’t see a reason to only cover Europe travel), how would that impact your travel decisions? Would you just carry on with a Pelican case? Reduce your travel to essential trips? Go naked (without electronics)? Take the train/bus/ship?

    1. Yes, the presumption is that it would be the same as the current middle east ban in terms of device sizes and such.

      For me odds are a Pelican 1510 is in my future. I cannot effectively conduct my business without my other devices. And an oceanic Atlantic crossing may be in the cards one day but not every time I go to Europe. I did six EU trips in Q1 and have two more set for Q2 (took a little break in April/May). I cannot spend a week each way for those.

  2. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Homeland Security felt confident enough in their Known Traveler Program or Global Entry to exempt those passengers from these restrictions? And an added bonus would be to boost participation in those programs. But of course, that’s *if* they have enough confidence…..

    1. How would that work for international travel? Why would the French exempt Global Entry card holders from any electronics ban on CDG-JFK, for example, given that French citizens generally wouldn’t be eligible for Global Entry? And would the DHS trust any other country’s trusted traveler program?

    1. Leading me to this awful Devil’s Advocate question: If this is such a big frickin and real threat as some in D.H.S. seem to think it is, what’s to stop the terrorists out there from executing it now while the powers-that-be fuss and argue about it?

      1. If 101 ml of a given liquid are so deadly and 100 ml of the same liquid are okay, why can two or more people traveling together each bring 100ml of said liquid? What’s going to stop the terrorists out there from, you know, combining 100ml + 100ml into 200ml of evil juice once they have passed the checkpoint?

        Or in short, logic? Seriously?

  3. How many more weeks until it would be extended to domestic flights? Obviously if somebody gets on a plane for the U.S. that person has proper authorization to travel to the U.S. So leave the bomb at home, fly to the U.S., buy a laptop, make it here. The irrationality of the steps being taken and potentially being taken is still mind boggling. Maybe DHS decides it’s just not safe to fly in the U.S. anymore and everybody needs to take a bus to Canada or Mexico to get on a plane.

    1. Then someone will decide that it is too risky to allow people to bring electronics on buses.

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