The In-Flight Electronics Ban Might Be Getting a Lot Worse
Going to new places and exploring the world is a wonderful experience for those who have the privilege of being able to travel. But flying and dealing with the hassle of airports, long plane rides and going through customs isn't fun. Like, I'm pretty sure no one out there loves being patted down every time they go through security just because their bra has a big ole underwire that sets off the body scanner.
It could be worse, though! The U.S. currently has a ban on bringing any personal electronics larger than a cellphone into the cabin of a plane on flights to or from the Middle East and North Africa, and they're considering expanding the policy to include flights to European countries.
If the electronics ban is extended to European countries, it will affect more than 390 flights a day and cost an estimated $1.1 billion in productivity. A lot of businesspeople who travel frequently work on their flights, but without their devices, that work would come to a screeching halt.
There are also concerns that a European electronics ban will cost the airlines money. For instance, many companies wouldn't want their employees to check bags with laptops and other personal electronics that contain privileged information. Instead, they might decide to opt for remote meetings instead of traveling for face-to-face ones.
Honestly, I wouldn't want to check my laptop in my bag. I've seen how the baggage handlers throw suitcases around when they're loading the plane, never mind how even the largest suitcases tumble onto the baggage carousel at the end of flights. I doubt my computer would go through unscathed, but if I have to work on a trip, what's the alternative? Just canceling my travel, I guess.
Also, what if you're on a long-haul flight on an older plane that doesn't have an entertainment console? A lot of passengers would be lost — aka bored as hell, squirmy and anxious — without their laptop, iPad or Kindle. Sure, actual print books and magazines are an option, but if you're in the air for more than a couple of hours, you usually want to shake things up with various activities and forms of entertainment.
With the current Middle East and North Africa electronics ban, Emirates Airline has been letting passengers check their electronics at the gate, instead of in their checked baggage. This is a bit more convenient and safer (though still a security risk for devices containing confidential information), but it takes extra time, and it's hard to know how well such a plan could be executed across various airlines traveling around the world.
Ugh. First they took away our complimentary peanuts, and now we won't even be able to binge-watch Master of None on our flights. What's next? Uncomfortable seats that just keep getting smaller and smaller? Oh wait, that's already a thing.
Here's hoping that a solution can be found that enforces security while letting us hang onto our devices — because there are only so many books I can fit into my carry-on... and my in-flight Xanax always wears off eventually.