The ban on electronic devices on board some direct flights to the United States could expand to include more airports and devices, the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday.
The existing ban -- which governs certain devices from 10 specific African and Middle Eastern airports in eight countries -- requires passengers on those flights to place electronic devices larger than cellphones in their checked luggage.
"Could we see an expansion? Possibly, we have not ruled out that there could be an expansion in the future," DHS spokesman David Lapan told reporters. He added that any expansion to the ban -- which took effect two weeks ago -- is not imminent.
The Department of Homeland Security is also targeting and isolating certain aircraft for additional screening upon landing in the United States, according to a source with knowledge of the screening procedures.
US authorities have said the electronics ban is focused on the eight countries in part because of intelligence indicating a greater threat there. Intelligence and law enforcement assessments done in recent months also indicate that, though the broader vulnerabilities exist, the US has more confidence in detection machines and security screeners at airports in the US and Europe. Advanced technology and training helps mitigate the risk.
Lapan said it was too soon to tell if any of the airports currently on the list would be removed and that the policy would be reviewed based on emerging threats. He added, though, that "nothing is foolproof."
"It is always our goal to prevent somebody from seeking to get an explosive device on an airplane and so we put things into place to try to mitigate that to the greatest extent possible," he said. "But, short of having people stop flying completely -- that's the only way you can guarantee that no one will ever get blown up in an airplane."