The US has banned the bringing of laptop computers into the cabins of aircraft arriving in the US from Turkey, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and requires that they be placed in checked luggage. There were reports that the ban may be expanded to include flights arriving from Europe as well but after initially rejecting that plan, just yesterday, the head of the Department of Homeland Security John Kelly said that they were considering extending the ban to all flights entering and leaving the US, irrespective of the other country.
As I understand it, these moves are being considered in the wake of reports that terrorists have acquired the ability to insert explosives into the battery compartment of laptops and that these are hard to detect. That is indeed alarming. But surely if that is the case, then shouldn’t the laptop ban cover all flights domestic and international, and even include checked luggage? After all, isn’t an explosion in the cargo hold as dangerous as one in the passenger cabin? One suggested explanation for the exclusion only from carry-on luggage is that checked luggage undergoes more powerful radiation checks.
Banning laptops on domestic US flights, even on just carry-on luggage, would cause a huge outcry. Business travelers especially do not check their luggage and use their computers on flights. They will not be happy with such a restriction.
Can anyone think of a rationale for restricting the scope of the ban in narrow ways if there is a real threat that bombs can be placed in laptop battery compartments? As yet, I have not heard of any plausible reason.