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US, Britain Ban Use of Laptops in Cabins for Some Airlines

  • Zlatica Hoke

Britain joined the United States Tuesday in banning laptops, tablets, cameras and some other electronic devices from cabin luggage on flights from Turkey and several countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

Devices larger than a smartphone will now have to be checked in.

Many air travelers, however, cannot imagine going on a trip without an electronic gadget.

"People carry laptops and iPads for all kinds of reasons related to work, related to daily life, and if they can't bring it, then what are they going to do?" said Amitava Dutt, who was deboarding an Abu Dhabi flight.

But terror groups have been using electronic devices as explosives, most recently on a plane in Somalia. The Trump administration announced Tuesday it is putting in place measures to prevent such terrorist attacks against Americans.

"Elevated intelligence that we are aware of indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation and are aggressive in pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks to include smuggling of explosive devices in various consumer objects," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said.

The British government announced similar restrictions Tuesday. Travelers already undergo tight airport security and some say this extra measure is unnecessary.

But security experts say removing electronic devices from the cabin is a prudent measure.

"What we are essentially seeing is that by putting equipment into the hold of the plane, we are separating the larger electronic equipment from the individual who could detonate that," security expert Daniel Gerstein of the Rand Corporation said.

Gerstein told VOA via Skype that if potential terrorists move to the airlines that do not ban electronics, more countries could adopt the measure.

"So this could be something that becomes the new normal, or we could see it rapidly diminish if we find procedures -- screening procedures -- that will allow for safely getting passengers and their gear onto and off of the aircraft," he said.

As a result, some flights to the United States and Britain may be long and boring for passengers who like to pass the time with their laptops and other electronic gear.

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