Laptop Travel Ban – updates

What you need to know and how you can prepare for the laptop travel ban –

Please note – THIS IS NOT IN EFFECT YET-

Here is the fact sheet for Dept. of Homeland Security. https://www.dhs.gov/news/2017/03/21/fact-sheet-aviation-security-enhancements-select-last-point-departure-airports

(Courtesy: WendyPerrin.com http://www.wendyperrin.com/how-you-can-prepare-for-the-laptop-travel-ban/)

The (DHS) is expected to expand the laptop ban to include flights coming into the U.S. from Europe. Less than two months after the first ban required that fliers arriving from several Middle East countries pack their laptops, tablets, game consoles, digital cameras, and other devices in their checked lugged, there’s now news that planes arriving from the European Union will be subject to similar rules. This extension “would affect trans-Atlantic routes that carry as many as 65 million people a year on over 400 daily flights”—and we know that includes many of our own readers, who are planning trips to Europe right now.

Earlier this year (March) The Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) brought a ban into effect as it relates to Laptops, tablets, and other electronic devices.  Officials from the U.S. DHS) met last week with high-ranking executives of the three leading U.S. airlines — American, Delta and United — and the industry’s leading U.S. trade group to discuss expanding the laptop policy to flights arriving from Europe.  The airlines still hope to have a say in how the policy is put into effect at airports to minimize inconvenience to passengers.

The current ban—affecting flights from Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey—is confusing, and a lot has been left undefined.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s wording is that nothing “larger than a smartphone” can be carried onboard, but the agency is vague about what that exact size is. A FAQ on its website says, “Smartphones are commonly available around the world and their size is well understood by most passengers who fly internationally. Please check with your airline if you are not sure whether your smartphone is impacted.”

As expected, in the weeks after the first ban was implemented, a few of the affected airlines started to test out solutions: Qatar is providing complimentary laptops to premium-class passengers, Emirates introduced a laptop-handling service, and Etihad is offering free Wi-Fi (which you can access with your phone).

So in the interest of helping all travelers prepare (not just those flying from airports or on airlines listed in the original ban, and not just those planning trips to Europe), we’ll keep updating this FAQ as we learn more about how airlines and airports will be handling the changes. In the meantime, here are some answers and solutions.

What devices have to be checked now?

While it’s safe to expect that laptops, tablets, game units, and digital cameras must be packed in checked luggage, it seems that you could easily be at the whim of an individual security officer or your airline’s interpretation of what devices are acceptable for carry-on.

 

The DHS FAQ says only:  “Generally, passengers will be instructed to place large electronic devices in their checked bags when traveling from one of the last point of departure airports. We provided guidance to the airlines who will determine how to implement and inform their passengers.” How the airlines are choosing to implement and inform is inconsistent. “The manner of a Security Directive/Emergency Amendment is to tell an airline the end result required (no electronic devices larger than a cell phone allowed in the cabin) and allow them the flexibility to implement within their business model.”

What airports does the ban affect now ?

If you are flying through or from any of the following airports, the current ban applies to you: Queen AliaInternational Airport (AMM), Cairo International Airport (CAI), Ataturk International Airport (IST), King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED), King Khalid International Airport (RUH), Kuwait International Airport (KWI), Mohammed V Airport (CMN), Hamad International Airport (DOH), Dubai International Airport (DXB), and Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH).

The specifics of a European-flight ban are still being worked out.

Membership in Global Entry, TSA Precheck, Clear, or any trusted traveler program does not exempt you from the ban. You still have to comply with the new luggage rules.

What can I do to prepare for the inconveniences of the ban?

Turn your smartphone into a laptop:  Most of us think of portable keyboards as accessories for tablets, but they can be used with smartphones too. The screen may be smaller than you’d like, but at least it’ll let you get through some emails while you’re in the air. (If you’re accustomed to using more than one electronic device in-flight, you might consider getting a second phone. After all, airlines are not limiting the number of smartphones you can bring onboard. You could use one phone as a tablet or computer while you’re listening to music on the other. Get a cheap burner phone that you need not activate with a mobile carrier; you can just use it with Wi-Fi.)

Read Offline:  E-readers are part of the ban, so if that leaves you without something to peruse on the plane, you still have options. Add the Kindle app to your phone and do your reading there; the app will maintain your library, with bookmarks and notes, across all your devices. If you’re a periodicals reader, check out an app such as Instapaper, which lets you save any article or video from the web and read it later offline. And of course, you could always go back to old-school books. Now that there aren’t any tech devices in your carry-on, you may have room for the latest bestsellers.

Take the time to install anti-theft software and features on your devices. In case you’re forced to check your laptop, install or activate theft-protection apps on it. Apps such as Prey or Find My Mac allow you not only to track where your laptop is, but also to lock it and erase it completely—and, depending on the software, even enable you to take a photo of the thief.

For an additional bit of tracking service, consider attaching a Tile to your various devices. These little squares have GPS locators in them that speak to a master Tile you keep somewhere safe. Most commonly, they are used for helping the perpetually forgetful find their misplaced keys and wallets; use the master Tile (or your phone) to set off a sounding beacon on your lost item.

This isn’t so helpful if your laptop, camera, or game unit is thousands of miles away, but the app has a cool secondary feature: Activate the “Notify when found” option, and if anyone who has a Tile comes within range of your tiled item, you’ll get a notification of its location.

Choose your airlines carefully.   Some of the impacted airlines are innovating to make life easier for premium-class passengers. Qatar Airways has begun offering first- and business-class passengers a complimentary laptop loan service; passengers can download their work onto a USB before stepping onboard and collecting their loaner laptop. Etihad Airways is lending premium-class passengers iPads and free Wi-Fi. Some airlines are offering a service at its gates where they say they will collect and securely pack passengers’ electronic items, for pick-up at the destination airport.

That’s all the information we have at the moment – we will update you as soon as we have any new information.  We are keeping a close eye on this and all relevant travel matters.

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