A ban implemented by the United States on laptops and tablets being carried in cabins on flights from certain countries may soon be extended to include flights from the UK and Europe to the US.

But critics have warned the move could end in catastrophe if batteries on a device overheated and caught fire in the hold.

European and American officials are preparing to discuss the new rules which apply to electronic gadgets larger than a smartphone. These would include Kindle e-readers, iPads and laptops.

But in an excellent travel feature the Telegraph has revealed nine reasons why it would be a bad idea to ban these devices to the hold.

And the main one is that The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is responsible for safe flying in 32 countries, states that personal electronic devices (PED) carry a fire risk due to their lithium batteries.

Laurie Price, former Aviation Advisor to the Transport Select Committee and a private pilot, told the Independent: "We have had numerous incidents of devices with lithium batteries suddenly bursting into flames. If that is in the aircraft cabin, it can be dealt with. If in the aircraft hold, the fire-suppression systems are unlikely to be able to contain it and there is a lot of material to exacerbate such fires including other baggage, the aircraft structure, fuel and systems in an area which is inaccessible in flight. The consequences could be catastrophic."

E-cigarettes are also powered by lithium batteries and are already prohibited from checked baggage by both the US Department of Transportation and the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority due to their volatility.

Following an incident where the batteries in a woman's headphones caught fire (pictured left) the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said: "As the range of products using batteries grows, the potential for in-flight issues increases."

And there is a greater risk that the fire will go undetected in the hold.

The EASA has recommended that personal electronic devices should preferably be carried inside passenger cabins so that any problems could be identified and tackled immediately.

AvSax are now on board several major US carriers.

The AvSax is a special fire-retardant bag used when lithium-ion batteries in mobile phones or other electronic devices catch fire and has been deployed on planes several times already this year

Simply pour at least two litres of water into an AvSax and then drop the burning device into the bag. The water activates the polymer gel inside the bag causing it to expand around the device. Should the device keep on venting then the AvSax is tough enough to absorb the force.

In short, the AvSax cools the batteries in the device, reducing the likelihood of the battery catching fire but if it does go into what is called thermal runaway and flares up it is all contained within the bag.

Security concerns led to the US banning the devices from cabins on flights from a number of Middle Eastern countries in March.

A similar British ban that followed applies to flights to the UK from six countries: Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Tunisia.

For more on this story go to http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/news/catastrophic-fires-reasons-the-laptop-ban-is-a-bad-idea/