After weeks of deliberation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security could soon extend its electronics ban to flights to and from Europe.
Within the coming weeks, travelers could no longer be able to bring large electronics on flights to and from Europe, according to aviation analyst Alex Macheras, who said an official White House announcement would come later this week.
The ban — which prevents all electronics larger than a smartphone from being taken on a plane as a carry-on — currently affects flights from several airports in the Middle East. This European expansion could also affect flights that originate in the United States. It is unclear if some European countries would be exempt from the ban.
The original electronics ban went into effect in March. Airlines were given 96 hours to comply with new rules. A few days later, the U.K. followed suit and banned carry-on electronics on flights originating from several Middle Eastern countries.
In response to the ban, some Middle Eastern airlines began offering rental tablets or allowing first and business class passengers to check their laptops at the gate.
But as a growing number of airlines continue to charge for checked luggage, this new ban could mean that American travelers would literally pay to bring their computers to Europe.
“We’ve said we will continue to evaluate the threat environment and make determinations based on that assessment, but we have not made any decisions on expanding the current restrictions against large electronic devices in aircraft cabins from selected airports,” Gillian Christensen, a spokeswoman for the DHS, told The Guardian in April.
Meanwhile, security experts are debating the efficacy of a wide-spread electronics ban. Devices banned include laptops, tablets, e-readers, DVD players, any gaming device larger than a smartphone and travel-sized printers and scanners. There are also potential safety concerns because of the large number of lithium-ion batteries that would now be stored in cargo.
“We have not made any decisions on expanding the electronics ban,” the TSA told Travel + Leisure in a statment. “However, we are continuously assessing security directives based on intelligence and will make changes when necessary to keep travelers safe.”