On Wednesday, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly announced an array of sweeping changes aimed at making flying safer in a speech at the Council for New American Security Conference in Washington, D.C. "We can not play worldwide whack-a-mole with each new threat".
Airlines that fail to comply with the new set of security rules will not only be banned from using laptop computers but will no longer be allowed in checked luggage either, senior officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) told reporters in a background briefing. Homeland Security says part of the web of threats they've detected involves terrorists hoping to recruit airport and airline "insiders" who would be in a position to do serious damage.
Kelly said some measures will be noticeable by passengers while others will be unseen.
He said terrorists still see commercial aircraft as "the crown jewel target" for attacks, and that intelligence has shown renewed interest by terrorists to attack airlines. The specifics of numerous new security measures will not be released due to security reasons, CNN reported. The officials said that not all measures will be visible to the public, though people may notice more bomb sniffing dogs, more thorough screening of their carry-on bags and swabbing of devices for traces of explosions.
But carriers at the 10 foreign airports already affected by the laptop ban - instituted in March and unilaterally barring large personal electronic devices from the cabin, but not the cargo hold - will have those restrictions lifted if they implement the new measures.
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The government had been considering expanding the laptop ban to include some European airports.
US security officials are set to unveil new security measures that could lead to the lifting of the ban on laptops and other large electronic devices in airplane cabins, multiple media outlets are reporting. But he said the measures are not the last step to tighten security. They are likely to be imposed by this summer, the official said.
DHS officials did not provide a timeline for when airlines must comply with the new security enhancements. The official also said the measures will be implemented in phases, though some of the measures have already been tested at several USA airports including Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
In recent weeks, Kelly and his aides have huddled with their counterparts overseas, as well as with representative of major airlines, to discuss whether to expand the ban around the globe.