On my 16-hour flight from Dubai to LAX in March 2017, my plans for working on the plane flew out the window. Due to the controversial electronics ban put in place by the Trump administration, my device had to be checked against my wishes. My experience is obviously just a mere inconvenience compared to the bigger issues with the electronics ban. It prohibits passengers from bringing any electronic device larger than a cell phone on board planes flying from very specific countries to the US and has been problematic for airlines and airports, for passengers, for security officials, and because of what it means for countless people across the world. Those opposed to the ban argue that it targets Muslim-majority countries (because it does), while others in support of it feel that it's necessary in order to increase international air travel safety. Now, a similar electronics security measure may be on its way to Europe.
The bad news is that the electronics ban — which currently applies to 10 Middle Eastern and North African airports — is potentially going to be put in place for flights from Europe to the United States. The "good" news is that at least we'll have a little more warning this time if it does occur. The original ban was enacted in response to security threats from ISIS, and European officials are reportedly readying themselves for the implications of a massive expansion of the measure.
I happened to be traveling through the Middle East at the time the administration's electronics ban was first enacted, and I can tell you from experience that the process was a clusterf*ck. Our flight was delayed almost two hours (it was definitely not Emirates's fault) because, due to the abrupt passage of the rule, passengers had to pull out their electronics one by one and get them bubbled wrapped, boxed, and sent to checked baggage all at the gate as we tried to board the plane. Europe is prepping for what the ban may mean for airlines and airports across the continent.
"We're expecting something to happen, we're just not sure exactly what or when," a senior executive at a major European airline told CNN. An intelligence official told The New York Times that the Europe electronics ban "was being considered because of concerns that radicalized citizens of European Union nations or people with dual citizenship could target United States-bound fights."
Another government official speaking on the condition of anonymity told NYT that the new ban was being considered "because the American government considered immigration policies in Europe to be lax," adding that there is also concern that "the ban adopted in March might not stop a terrorist with a bomb-rigged laptop from simply flying to Europe to catch a United States-bound flight."
Check back for updates on when and if a new electronics ban is indeed coming to Europe.