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US might ban laptops from European flights after all

The US Department of Homeland Security tweets that it's still considering only allowing large electronics in checked baggage.

Airline passengers could be facing new restrictions.
Shara Tibken/CNET

The back and forth on the laptop ban on airplanes is enough to give you whiplash.

Talks between the US Department of Homeland Security and European Union on Wednesday in Brussels ended with a decision not to ban large electronics from the cabin of flights from Europe to the US, according to the Associated Press. The US had proposed the idea because of security concerns, but airlines opposed the move, and some experts said putting laptops in checked luggage actually posed a bigger concern of their lithium ion batteries igniting.

But then the DHS on Thursday tweeted that it's still considering the ban.

"While the Secretary has not made a final decision on expanding the restriction on large electronic devices in aircraft cabins to additional last points of departure, it is still under consideration," the tweet said. "DHS continues to evaluate the threat environment and will make changes to our security requirement when necessary to keep air travelers safe."

In March, the DHS temporarily banned passengers from carrying on laptops, tablets and other devices larger than mobile phones on flights from 10 Middle Easter and African countries. Instead, those items had to be placed in checked baggage. Then earlier this month, DHS said it may ban laptops on all flights from Europe, as well. It enacted the ban after intelligence revealed terrorists were developing an explosive that could be hidden in portable electronic devices.

Tens of millions of people fly between Europe and North America every year. Every day, there are nearly 400 flights on that route, according to the AP. Putting in place a ban on large electronics would cause "logistical chaos," with the ban causing the equivalent of $1.1 billion in lost time to passengers, according to the International Air Transport Association, which represents 265 airlines.