Passengers travelling on certain US-bound foreign airline flights will have to check electronic devices larger than a cellphone once US authorities formalise a new ban in response to an unspecified terrorism threat, US officials told Reuters. The new rule is expected to be announced March 21 by the Department of Homeland Security, the officials said, adding that it had been under consideration since the US government learned of a threat several weeks ago.
A source said the rule would cover around eight to 10 foreign airlines. A separate government official confirmed an Associated Press report that the ban will affect 10 airports in eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa. No American carriers were affected by the ban, the officials said. Passengers would be allowed to carry in their checked luggage larger devices like tablets, portable DVD players, laptops and cameras.
The White House declined to comment. A spokesman for the US Department of Homeland Security, David Lapan, said the agency has “no comment on potential security precautions, but will provide an update when appropriate. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly called congressional lawmakers this weekend to notify them of the plan, congressional aides said.
In July 2014, the Homeland Security Department stepped up security of US-bound flights, requiring tougher screening of mobile phones and other electronic devices and requiring them to be powered up before passengers could board flights to the United States.