Another travel ban but this time it is for your electronic devices.
The short version of the ban is that you are no longer allowed to carry any electronic devices larger than a cell phone inside the cabin of flights coming into the US and the UK from these countries: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. The US also included Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Doha, Kuwait City and Casablanca to their list.
Before you dismiss this as “I don’t fly from those countries”, remember that this includes all transit flights too. So if you travel via Dubai for example on route to South Africa or the Far East, this means that no laptops or tablets will be allowed in the cabin on the way back to the USA. If you fly with small children then you know the blessing that the tablet offers parents who have a way to entertain the little ones during a grueling flight and of course business people need their laptops in their office-in-the-sky.
Why the electronic travel ban?
Governments will obviously not share why they have all of a sudden implemented this ban, but we can assume that they have uncovered some chatter that warranted this move. Some security experts are quoted as saying that this move is more of a headache for passengers and not effective as terrorist would simply fly out of a country that is not on the “ban list”. Why allow a cell phone and not a laptop? Presuming that a cell phone can not contain enough explosives to do real damage, but a large laptop’s battery might.
Some theories as to why this is in place suggest that this ban has nothing to do with terror but more with money. The US carriers are fighting with the middle-east carriers for the air-travel passengers to and from the USA. However, the mid-east carriers are usually cheaper as they are subsidized by their governments. So the suggestion is that this is a scare tactic to get business travelers to change their route and preferred airline to ones that allow laptops onboard the plane…[#ConspiracyTheory? see bottom of this article for more info.]
One of the replies to the ban came swiftly from Emirates Airline who uploaded an 18-second clip featuring Jennifer Aniston in the economy class on an Emirates Airbus A380. The ad shows that with all the in-flight entertainment passengers don’t need electronics to be entertained as on their flight as they have “2500 channels, movies, box sets, live sports and kids TV” – smart move Emirates!
What can you do during this electronic travel ban?
There is no indication of how long this ban will be in place. It could be permanent or it could be temporary until new scanning equipment is installed. But in the mean time, here are 10 tips of what to do if you are flying via, or from, one of the countries on the electronic travel ban:
- If you put your electronics into your checked-in luggage, check with the airlines if they are insured for damage or theft. Speak to your own insurance company too.
- If you booked your flight via a credit card, speak to your bank/ credit card customer service and see if they cover your luggage or if you can take out extra luggage insurance.
- Ensure your electronics are well protected and padded as luggage tends to be thrown around.
- Lock your suitcase. Theft out of luggage is rife in specific airports, but now that everyone knows that those flights will have electronics in the suitcases we can expect the number of “lost luggage” will increase.
- Backup your data just to be safe.
- Remove all super-confidential information off your electronics. The truth is that when the electronics leaves your sight, you have no idea what happens to them. With stories of government agencies making copies of phones and laptops you never know…
- If you want to work on your phone, save the documents onto your phone via USB or via the Cloud before you head to the airport. Test to make sure you can open the docs too.
- Load up your phone with the games and movies, especially if you travel with kids, just as you would have done on their tablets. Ensure that the games don’t rely on Internet access to play.
- Get into Podcast and download loads onto your phone. There are podcasts for everything and all interest and if you are not listening to them now, this is an ideal time to get into podcasting.
- If your phone doesn’t have enough space, get the On The Go Cable so that you can connect a USB Flash drive to your phone. Just make sure your phone supports it but if it does, it’s a cheap cable that’s well worth it. (here is how I used it)
Finally, remember the “olden days” when we read on a flight? This might be a good time to get into that too…but make sure it’s a real book and not a Kindle as that would need to be checked in too….
Interesting article by the Economist about airline industry from 2015: http://www.economist.com/news/business/21649509-advance-emirates-etihad-and-qatar-latterly-joined-turkish-airlines-looks-set