Last week news outlets leaked that the laptop travel ban that was placed on flights from the Middle East in March, was going to go into effect for flights departing from Europe. This caused a bit of hysteria and even resulted in airlines like Delta inexplicably posting laptop ban signage prematurely. Luckily, there was significant pushback from airlines and the EU, with many officials citing the massive level of disruption that this would cause roughly 30 million passengers flying from Europe and underscoring the danger that lithium batteries in the cargo hold present.
As a result of that pushback, US officials, led by the deputy secretary of homeland security, Elaine Duke, met with EU officials in Brussels for four hours.
According to a joint EU-US statement: “At the meeting, both sides exchanged information on the serious evolving threats to aviation security and approaches to confronting such threats… Participants provided insight into existing aviation security standards and detection capabilities as well as recent security enhancements on both sides of the Atlantic related to large electronic devices placed in checked baggage.”
And after this four hour meeting, it looks like they may have decided against a ban on laptops and tablets in cabin baggage on flights from Europe.
It’s not 100% clear that the ban is not going to happen, however.
The Guardian reports that, “[w]hile the EU delegation were not given a guarantee that a laptop ban would not be imposed, there is greater confidence in Brussels that it is unlikely to happen in the near future.”
Apparently there are still concerns within the aviation industry that the laptop ban could still reemerge in the coming weeks. The Guardian further reports that, “A spokesman for Airlines for Europe, the representative body for 22 major carriers, said: ‘We just know that there will further talks next week.’…
Pushed as to whether the laptop ban had been dropped, the European commission’s chief spokesman, Margaritis Schinas, declined to offer any cast-iron assurances during his daily press conference in Brussels, saying: ‘No ban on electronic devices was announced. Neither were any other measures decided during this meeting.'”
So this is a sign of progress but it doesn’t sound like there was an outright rejection of the laptop ban, especially since meetings are already set for next week.
I think this is great because it shows that the US and EU are capable of negotiating and hearing each other out on this important issue of security and safety. BBC even reports that “[EU] authorities had been assured by their US colleagues that the meeting signaled the start of an era of better communication on security issues under President Donald Trump.” Let’s hope so.
I fully expected a lap top ban to be implemented based on what sources were saying, so the fact that it wasn’t after this first meeting is a huge relief and gives me hope that we might not see this ban implemented at all.