Counterterrorism officials in the U.S. and the United Kingdom have been quietly discussing an outright ban on hand-carried luggage aboard airplanes for weeks now in the wake of intelligence reports that suggest al-Qaida may be planning to target planes around Europe before the Christmas holidays.
The plot, the U.K. newspaper reports and U.S. officials confirm, is thought to involve the smuggling of bombs onto planes bound for major cities in Europe. The plan did not seem to include any U.S.-bound flights, U.S. officials told NPR.
In response, counterterrorism officials on both sides of the Atlantic have been discussing how to prevent the attacks. One remedy under consideration is to ban all carry-on baggage, though there is some question as to whether airlines would push back against such a draconian provision.
Another possible remedy: banning electronic devices from the passenger cabin. Officials are discussing whether to require that electronics such as cellphones, iPads and computers be placed in the cargo hold with checked baggage, which goes through a much more rigorous screening process. Detecting a bomb, if there is one, would be more likely.