My Advice Regarding the Possible European Electronics Ban

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:

  1. Obviously, no one wants a bomb to go off on a plane. Duh.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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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My Advice Regarding the Possible European Electronics Ban
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Johnny Jet
I used to be afraid to fly and at times even leave the house! I conquered my fear (long story) and now I travel to 20+ countries a year sharing my firsthand knowledge, tips and deals with friends, family and readers. Please sign up to our free newsletters and tell your friends!

9 Comments on "My Advice Regarding the Possible European Electronics Ban"

  1. I’m curious why we’ve always had to put laptops in a separate bin while going through the security scanners. Have we now learned that it’s been an ineffective rule?

  2. Latest I read this (Friday) morning is that no announcement was to be made yet about the extended ban although the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is keen about imposing it and Europeans are apparently more concerned about the risk of an in-flight fire if large numbers of devices with lithium ion batteries were stored in the cargo holds of airliners.

  3. Martin A Knutson | May 12, 2017 at 6:41 pm | Reply

    This doesn’t mesh all that well with the recent trend of airlines depending on your bringing a laptop or tablet for movies and music.

  4. Marilyn Long | May 17, 2017 at 7:11 am | Reply

    If a bomb can be put into a laptop, why is it any better to have the bomb in the cargo hold than in the cabin? Wasn’t the theory about the cause of the Lockerbie tragedy that a bomb had been in some of the checked luggage and that is what brought the plane down?

  5. I’m hoping that the Airlines/TSA/HLS will come up with a better long-term solution like more thorough screening of electronics, or sniffer dogs, sniffer machines, etc… the bad guys will inevitably pivot on this information and then we will have to worry about checked bags. The thought of banning travel with electronics boggles my mind, how long before we hear, sorry you will have to check your shoes…

  6. Paul Matsuda | May 17, 2017 at 8:43 am | Reply

    Any idea how this affects spare batteries for other “personal electronic devices” such as cameras? Do those batteries need to be removed and put in luggage? I have some larger batteries for a drone as well that if I was in the U.S. it would be a federal violation to put them in checked luggage. I would imagine there is going to be a lot of improvisation with gate agents and security screeners making up their own rules based on misinformation (i.e. impounding or confiscating your property), at least for a while after this kicks in.

  7. Watch out if you depend on a credit card’s coverage for insurance if you check a laptop; it may exclude electronics, or have a maximum of $250 or $500 coverage. Be sure to check carefully what (and how much) is covered.

  8. Maureen Kennedy | May 17, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Reply

    Just a couple of notes on Air Canada Rouge: their Premium Rouge class is a good deal and seats are essentially older Business Class-style with good space, pitch and leg room. There are not any in-seat entertainment systems but you can use your own tablet + an app to connect to the entertainment system, or rent a specially-configured iPad for the flight (free in Premium Rouge). My husband and I fly Toronto/Athens several times each year on Premium Rouge and appreciate that we don’t have to connect elsewhere in Europe to get to Athens. However, I agree with the statement about economy class in Rouge planes – too brutal to consider unless you are young! Aside: I SO wish Aegean would expand to North America; I think Aegean is Greece’s best kept secret!

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