Ban in Progress: DHS Unveils New Rules Regarding International Flights

American Airlines plane

The Department of Homeland Security has just unveiled the new rules for international flights. The agency is also asking airlines around the world to beef up their security protocols or risk being slapped with a total ban on electronics on their planes.

Stepping Up Security over Terrorist Threat

If airlines comply with the new set of rules, the U.S. might lift the ban on laptops and other types of large hardware on aircrafts flying from the Middle East and Africa to the U.S. It could also prevent the ban from being implemented on flights coming from Europe.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly unveiled the new rules Wednesday. He noted that security is his department’s “No. 1 concern”. He says America’s enemies are very versatile and the U.S. should adapt to the new circumstances. Kelly also said that many of the changes are “unseen” and most of them would be phased in over the next few months.

The airlines that refuse to comply with the new security standards could see themselves stripped of the right of allowing passengers to carry large electronics such as laptops, even in checked luggage. Some of them could even be barred from entering the U.S.

The Controversial Laptop Ban

The laptop ban targets only airlines traveling to the U.S. These carriers are allowed to carry large electronic devices in checked baggage. The changes will affect 180 airlines flying from 105 countries.

The initial laptop ban debuted in March amid concerns that terrorists may turn the devices into bombs. The ban targeted flights coming to the U.S. from ten Middle Eastern and African cities including Amman, Cairo, Istanbul, Casablanca, Dubai, and so on.

The Trump administration wanted to expand the ban to some European cities too, but Kelly suggested his agency was looking at alternatives. U.S. airports are already buying larger CT scanners for carry-on bags. American Airlines said the new scanners could force travelers to leave aerosols, laptops, and liquids in their carry-on bags. Checked luggage is already being scanned at U.S. terminals.

Update on the Travel Ban

Trump’s revised travel ban is set to go into effect Thursday night at 8 p.m. EST. The ban affects international travelers from Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan. Visa applicants in those countries will have to prove a relationship with family already in the U.S. in order to be allowed entry. If they can’t prove any sort of relationship they will be banned for at least 90 days from trying to re-enter the country. Luckily, at least a dozen attorneys are volunteering their time at JFK airport to assist those passengers and monitor the effects of the ban. Camille Mackler, Director of Legal Initiatives at the New York Immigration Coalition, says travelers coming in Thursday are already approved and they don’t expect the chaos like the first travel ban.
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