Business travelers, who utilize flight time to catch up on work and email, will be disrupted by the recent announcement made by the Department of Homeland Security. Dubbed the ‘laptop ban’, large electronic devices will not be allowed as carry-on when flying non-stop to the U.S. from 10 international airports.
What are these 10 international airports?
- Jordan – Queen Alia International Airport (AMM)
- Egypt – Cairo International Airport (CAI)
- Turkey – Ataturk International Airport (IST)
- Saudi Arabia – King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED) & King Khalid International Airport (RUH)
- Kuwait – Kuwait International Airport (KWI)
- Morocco – Mohammed V Airport (CMN)
- Qatar – Hamad International Airport (DOH)
- United Arab Emirates – Dubai International Airport (DXB) & Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)
What airlines fly non-stop to the U.S.?
- Royal Jordanian
- Turkish Airlines
- Saudi Arabian Airlines
- Kuwait Airways
- Royal Air Moroc
- Qatar Airways
- Etihad Airways
Regulations of the new ‘Laptop Ban’
The aviation security enhancements are for all U.S. bound flights from these 10 airports. It requires that all personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone or smart phone be placed in checked baggage. Large electronic devices such as laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, and electronic games can no longer be used in-flight. The ban does not effect the flight returning from the U.S. back to these countries.
Increased security was needed, based on intelligence about airlines that fly non-stop from these 10 airports. Top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, said “These steps are both necessary and proportional to the threat. The global aviation system remains a top target and proper security requires that we continually adapt our defenses.”
The nine airlines affected have until early Friday morning to implement necessary changes. If an airline ignores enforcement, security officials will ask the Federal Aviation Administration to revoke the airline’s certificate to fly in the U.S.
Great Britain has followed the U.S. with a similar announcement. Their ban specifies dimensions of electronics not allowed as carry-on. The U.K. ban focuses on Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. Canada may be following with their own electronic ban as well.
No time frame has been given on this change. The DHS has said in “will remain in place until the threat changes”. Additional airports could also be added at any time.
Business travel industry reaction to the ban
While safety is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, this ban comes as a jolt and inconvenience to business travelers. A complete halt in business productivity is one criticism, but additional safety concerns are another.
One possible matter is the increased risk of lithium-ion batteries catching fire in the cargo hold. These fires would be hard to contain early or even reach.
Another criticism is theft or damage to checked items. There is a reason we keep the most expensive and important items close to us while traveling. Most of us have experienced lost or damaged baggage, and even theft. Without your protection, your items are open to anyone. Speaking of which, this regulation will potentially leave confidential company business exposed while valuable information housed on laptops are checked.
Having flown on Emirate’s Airlines and experienced their exceptional in-flight entertainment, I appreciated their prompt and creative response to the ban, with their “Let Us Entertain You” video on Twitter.
Business traveler tips for the laptop ban
Regardless of in-flight entertainment options, the need to mitigate risk will be an inconvenience that travelers need to be prepared for in advance of their departure from the impacted airports.
- Back up everything and save it to the cloud, just in case of theft or damage.
- Add everything you need to your phone – movies, games, podcast, email, etc.
- Bring those ‘back burner’ tasks you never seem to get to normally – whitepapers, recommended books, research, etc.
- Buy an external keyboard that can be connected to your phone, making typing less of pain and increase productivity.
- Consider changing flights from a non-stop to one-stop flights.