Business travelers between the U.S. and Europe can breathe a small sigh of relief and clutch their laptops a little closer — for now, anyway. Following a call between Secretary John Kelly and defense leads in Europe, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a statement clarifying that it would not seek to ban laptops from the cabin on commercial flights from Europe at this time.
“While a much-discussed expansion of the ban on large electronic devices in the cabin on flights to the United States was not announced today, the Secretary made it clear that the an expansion is still on the table,” the department wrote.
“Secretary Kelly affirmed he will implement any and all measures necessary to secure commercial aircraft flying to the United States — including prohibiting large electronic devices from the passenger cabin — if the intelligence and threat level warrant it.”
The ban was discussed as a precaution against intelligence suggesting that terrorists abroad could leverage the devices to conceal explosives for an attack. Critics of the potential measure claim that such a policy would interfere with business travelers and ultimately hurt airlines that service routes between the U.S. and Europe. Others have pointed out the possibility that storing lithium batteries in a cargo hold could cause fires that crew members would not be able to extinguish.
In a statement to TechCrunch, Homeland Security spokesman Dave Lapan reiterated that “there is no timeline for a decision.”