Aviation leaders are urging the United States to reconsider its electronics ban and to find an alternative means of monitoring guests and their inflight technology.

The call from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) comes as the Department of Homeland Security revealed it was considering expanding the ban on devices larger than mobile phones on flights from Europe to the US.

The Association said extending the ruling, which currently applies on flights from 10 Middle Eastern and African cities, could end up costing travellers around US$1.1 billion a year and create new safety risks for passengers, The Australian reported.

laptop NTK

Among the biggest concerns among the group and its member airlines is that the collection and storing of lithium-ion-powered laptops, tablets and DVD players in one location could cause unexpected safety issues in the aircraft hold. Airlines have a rocky history with lithium batteries as they have previously burst into flames when accidentally interacted with seat reclining mechanisms.

IATA also calculated that revoking passengers’ access to personal devices would end up costing an estimated US$655 million (AU$884 million) a year in loss of productivity, US$216 million in longer travel and US$195 million in reduced wellbeing.

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In a letter to US Homeland Security’s Chief John Kelly and EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc, IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac urged the two parties to find alternative methods of monitoring flyers such as introducing explosives detection points at airport security.

“These alternative measures would also avoid the concentration of lithium battery-powered devices in the cargo hold of passenger aircraft which is deemed to create an additional safety threat.”

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA Director General

According to ACI Europe, around 60-90 percent of travellers using European airports carry electronics such as laptops and tablets.

What alternatives would you suggest the US consider to increase inflight safety?