US Wants to Bring Back Electronics Ban: Forbidding Laptops From Being Checked as Luggage

In the spring the US banned laptops from passenger cabins on US-bound flights from several airports,
requiring that electronics with lithium ion batteries be checked as baggage instead. They did this even though it was widely acknowledged to be dangerous.

Over the summer the U.S. agreed to lift the ban provided the world acquiesce to US-specific security procedures. In other words, if security theater dictates weren’t followed the U.S. would insist that air travel would be actually unsafe.

Now a mere four months later the US is calling for a new electronics ban — this time insisting that the world community ban laptops and other large electronics from checked luggage. Say what? (HT: @tebfunk)

Isn’t it ironic? It’s just like Alanis Morissette Remy sang, “It’s like learning Ted Kennedy happened to be good at bridge… or like FDR got locked in a Honda Accord… and who would’ve thought it figures?”

The U.S. government is urging the world airline community to ban large, personal electronic devices like laptops from checked luggage because of the potential for a catastrophic fire.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a paper filed recently with a U.N. agency that its tests show that when a laptop’s rechargeable lithium-ion battery overheats in close proximity to an aerosol spray can, it can cause an explosion capable of disabling an airliner’s fire suppression system. The fire could then rage unchecked, leading to “the loss of the aircraft,” the paper said.

The US is proposing to the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization that “passengers shouldn’t be allowed to pack large electronic devices in baggage unless they have specific approval from the airline.”

We’ve seen cargo planes destroyed and pilots killed by fires that were started by or exacerbated by lithium ion batteries. A lithium ion battery caught fire on a JetBlue flight earlier this year.

It doesn’t happen often, but when a fire starts in the cargo hold it’s much hard to contain than if it’s in the cabin.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I’m actually encouraged that upon further research and reflection, they opt to do the right thing instead of worrying about people making fun of them for getting it wrong at first.

  2. This makes sense. I am all for it.

    And it’s absolutely not surprising, ironic, or even noteworthy that the FAA (focused on aviation safety) would be working on this research and proposal while DHS (focused on security and politics) would be scrambling for carry-on ban.

  3. Is american composed of idiots who make decisions without thinking? First you say A and now you say not B but -A. Completely opposite.

    I wonder if those chinese people who opened emergency window or pooped in the aisle are actually smarter than most americans…..

  4. @anon — supposedly DHS and FAA both want to stop planes from blowing up. If they have different goals here you should be shouting that from the rooftops.

  5. @James
    If America is composed of idiots who make decisions without thinking, what does it say about the rest of the world which America dominates in virtually every category with ease?

  6. @Marvin
    Oh, I see what you did there. That’s real funny. Yeah, no I was really more talking about the military might to wipe anybody off the planet that we choose at any time, on a whim, with there being absolutely nothing anyone can do about it.

  7. Lithium ion batteries should never be placed in the cargo hold of an airliner. Air freight carriers never accept orders to ship lithium ion batteries because of the fire hazard. Interested in shipping lithium ion batteries? It’ll have to be by ground or sea.

  8. @phoenix
    Huh? A threat? Yeah, because I control the military. No, I’m just making the point that the peanut gallery is real quick to call us all a bunch of idiots, just not so quick to actually beat us at anything.

  9. @rob
    Uhm… as long as the idiot is happy let us all pretend that he is the strongest eventough he actually isn’t. There is nothing wrong in making idiot people happy. At least they won’t bother with another whine of something stupid……

  10. @James
    You sure do throw the word idiot around a lot for a guy who can’t write a coherent sentence.

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