Homeland Security avoids laptop ban with new heightened security measures for US-bound flights
In a move that avoids banning laptops from passenger cabins altogether, the DHS wants to raise the global baseline level of aviation security
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Wednesday that it would require enhanced security measures for all commercial flights coming into the United States, including increased security protocols and more thorough screenings of personal electronics devices such as phones and laptops.
While the new security measures avoid banning laptops from the passenger cabins, it could require additional time at increased security checkpoints.
The measures will affect approximately 325,000 daily passengers across 2,100 average daily flights, according to the DHS. This includes 105 affected countries, and 180 airlines at approximately 280 airports.
Increased security will play an important role in protecting America’s safety and way of life, Homeland Security pointed out, especially given that terrorists across the globe still view aviation as “a crown jewel target,” according to the DHS secretary.
“Terrorists want to bring down aircraft and to instill fear, disrupt our economies and undermine our way of life,” Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said during a press conference on Wednesday.
“[Terrorists] still see aviation as a crown jewel target,” he added.
“I am announcing a first step […] requiring new security measures applied to all commercial flights into the U.S.,” Kelly said.
“These measures, both seen and unseen, include enhanced screening of passengers and electronic devices, as well as heightened security standards for aircraft and airports,” according to an Aviation Security Fact Sheet on the DHS’s website.
The measures, which will be implemented over the course of the following weeks and months with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), include the following:
Enhancing overall passenger screening;
Conducting heightened screening of personal electronic devices;
Increasing security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas; and
Deploying advanced technology, expanding canine screening, and establishing additional preclearance locations, according to the DHS.
In March, Kelly banned “electronic devices larger than a cell phone from the passenger cabins of U.S.-bound commercial flights from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa,” he said.
Regarding the new measures that will be implemented, Kelly said, “inaction is not an option.”
“We will lay out a clear path to encourage airlines and airports to adopt more sophisticated screening approaches,” Kelly said.