Clive Irving of The Daily Beast has reported that “the Department of Homeland Security plans to ban laptops in the cabins of all flights from Europe to the United States, European security officials told The Daily Beast. The announcement is expected Thursday (TODAY).”
For the last two months passengers traveling to the U.S. on non-stop flights from nine Middle Eastern and North African airlines—Egypt Air, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Kuwait Airways, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Saudia Airlines, and Turkish Airlines—that operate from 10 airports— AMM, CAI, IST, JED, RUH, KWI, CMN, DOH, DXB, AUH— have been barred from bringing any electronic device larger than a cell phone onboard. That means all computers, cameras, e-readers, iPads, etc. have to be placed in checked luggage. Medical devices are okay. Those flying in premium classes are okay on some of the airlines as they provide laptops to borrow and have deluxe entertainment systems. I wrote about that ban here.
Well, it looks like the same restrictions are going to be extended to all U.S.-bound flights from Europe. I’m not sure if the ban will be announced today but it does look like it’s imminent. As Dave Lapan, spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, tweeted yesterday, “No final decisions made on expanding the restriction on large electronic devices in aircraft cabins; however, it is under consideration. DHS continues to evaluate the threat environment and will make changes when necessary to keep air travelers safe.”
This is of course extremely worrisome for a number of reasons:
- Obviously, no one wants a bomb to go off on a plane. Duh.
- This will bring about a whole new safety threat. As Clive points out in his article, “Laptops and tablets denied access to the cabin and added to checked baggage means that devices with a history of lithium-ion battery fires could set off a deadly conflagration in a cargo hold—where no one can put out the fires. The FAA recorded 33 incidents in 2016 of personal electronic devices carried into cabins by passengers causing fire emergencies during flights, according to an FAA document reviewed by The Daily Beast. Of these, three were in laptops and two in tablets.” Who the heck wants to worry about that?
- Almost all of my friends/colleagues that travel use either a laptop or tablet to work. This ban is going to force people to be less productive and make flights seem super long. The plus-side of this is that it should force those passengers to relax/disconnect, which isn’t a bad thing. That’s if their not worrying about their fragile goods below them.
- It increases the risk of theft/damage. Many passengers travel with expensive electronic equipment, so not only do you have to worry about having it stolen but damaged in the luggage compartment, as well.
My advice is to:
- Pack smart
- Back up all your data and save it to the cloud
- Bring your phone charger or buy one in the airport
- Bring some good reading material
- Consider flying via Canada, at least on the way to the United States. You know Air Canada must be loving this since the airline is about to get a huge uptick in business as long as the Canadian government doesn’t follow suit. (Note: If you’re flying Air Canada be sure it’s not on their low-fare carrier Rouge since they don’t have entertainment systems and have tight legroom (30 inches of pitch).
- Consider travel insurance to protect your electronics. I have a plan with Allianz, which I love. Some credit cards also cover the cost of damaged goods in your luggage. Check to see if yours does, and if it doesn’t, consider this card.
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