Airline Security: Carry On Working
Airlines seem to have dodged a wider ban on electronic devices.
The fear that business travellers on transatlantic flights might have to stop working on spreadsheets and read a good book instead had been palpable.
In recent weeks, agents at America's Department of Homeland Security had been hinting to the media that a ban on large electronic devices in the cabins of flights between Europe and America was likely.
After a meeting on May 17th in Brussels, between American and EU officials, however, reports suggest that threat has been averted.
Airlines will be rejoicing if so.
America had been expected to announce that all electronic gadgets larger than a smartphone, such as tablets and laptops, would henceforth have to be put in hold luggage.
The Trump administration (along with Britain) had already imposed similar restrictions on flights from some Middle Eastern countries in March.
It seemed security officials had got wind of a specific terrorist threat, possibly involving Islamic State (IS) , and perhaps similar to an attack perpetrated on a Somalian jet in 2016.
Then, a terrorist blew a hole in the side of an airliner using a small bomb concealed in a laptop placed against the cabin wall. (The terrorist got his timing wrong, detonated too early, and was sucked to his doom; no one else was seriously hurt. )
The reason for the apparent change of mind was unclear as The Economist went to press.
Airlines had complained that alternative security options, such as enhanced screening of passengers and their carry-on luggage, had not been fully explored.
They also warned of the dangers of storing more lithium batteries in the hold.
Such batteries, which are used in most electronic devices, have on occasion combusted and brought down commercial aircraft, including a UPS cargo plane in 2010.