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  • Laptops on Planes: Separating Fact from Fiction

    Do we really need to be worried about laptops on planes? The US government seems to think so, but they’re only concerned enough to restrict laptops on planes coming to America from certain countries. Next they’re planning to ban any people on those flights, as well.

    Ok, not really. Here’s what you need to know about the recent laptop bans:

    US intelligence agencies became concerned that terrorist groups have developed new ways of planting explosives in laptops so that they aren’t detectable by lax airport security. For those of us not inside the intelligence community, we don’t know whether such bombs have actually been developed or used. They could just be a theory. But apparently the threat was significant enough to take action.

    The US determined that ten airports in eight countries in the middle east and Turkey didn’t have good enough security measures in place. As a result, we banned laptops on flights originating in those countries and coming to the US. The affected countries were Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and Turkey. That was in the beginning of April.

    By the end of May, the Secretary of Homeland Security, General John Kelly, told Fox News that we might need to ban laptops on all international flights both into and out of the United States. He said that the threat is real, but that’s about as specific as he got.

    Now, as of July 5, several airlines have been cleared to start allowing laptops on their international flights into the United States once again. The airlines that have cleared the ban are Qatar Airways, Emirates, Turkish Airlines, and Etihad Airways. These airlines and the airports that they originate from enacted new, stricter security measures that were demanded by the US. After an inspection by US officials, they were deemed to be safe enough for laptops.

    The new security measures demanded by the US affect about 325,000 passengers traveling on 180 airlines from 280 airports every day. The security measures are also affecting interest in traveling to the US. Middle east air carriers had an increase in demand of 3.7% in May compared to the same period a year ago, but that increase marks an eight-year low.

    It looks as though most, if not all, of the airlines affected by the laptop ban will be allowed to have laptops again by the end of July. Hopefully airlines around the world will continue to put their weight behind security measures that are strong, advanced, and sensible. That includes secure passports, responsive intelligence, and well-trained security personnel.

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