In-Cabin Electronics Ban is Officially Lifted

UPDATE: July 20, 2017

ON THURSDAY, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that Saudi Arabia, the last of the eight countries still affected by the four-months long ban of computers and tablet devices from the passenger compartments of U.S.-bound jetliners, is now exempt from the prohibition. This officially ends the controversial, four-months long program that initially included the U.A.E, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.

The sanctions were lifted after the eight countries agreed to U.S.-imposed “enhanced airport security measures” for all flights headed to the United States. Officials have been understandably cagey when it comes to revealing them what those measures are, exactly, but they are aimed at detecting explosives hidden in laptop and tablet computers.

Nine airlines from the eight nations were affected: Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, Royal Jordanian, Royal Air Maroc, Turkish Airlines, EgyptAir, Kuwait Airways, and Saudia. No U.S. or European airlines were subject to the ban.

When the measures were first put in place, many people suspected they were less about safety than about handicapping the fast-growing, government-supported carriers from the Persian Gulf and Turkey. Ending the ban indicates there was more to it than politics. There’s still much about the whole mess that felt arbitrary, haphazard, and that badly needed explaining (see the original posts, below), but vindictiveness, at least, seems not to have been at the heart of it.

In the United Kingdom, a similar prohibition of electronics aboard inbound flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia remains in place.


UPDATE: May 17, 2017

ALL THAT for nothing. After a reported “high-level” meeting between U.S. and E.U. officials, the plan to restrict large electronic devices from the passenger cabins of flights from Europe to the United States has been put on indefinite hold. According to news reports, European officials were able to convince the American homeland security representatives that the plan was a bad idea, citing serious logistical and safety concerns (see earlier posts below). Further talks are scheduled, however, and it remains possible that an electronics ban of some kind could be enacted in the coming weeks.

The earlier ban, affecting flights from ten airports in eight countries across the Middle East, Morocco and Turkey, remains in place.


UPDATE: May 11, 2017

ACCORDING TO MULTIPLE news sources, as soon as the end of this week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration will announce that electronic devices larger than a mobile phone are to be prohibited from the passenger cabins of all flights from Europe to the United States. In March, a similar ban was enacted affecting flights from ten airports in the Middle East, Turkey, and Morocco. We’ve been told that the moves are in response to fears that explosives could be concealed within the hardware of a laptop computer.

Expanding the ban to Europe thwarts the contention that it was politically motivated (see original post, below). Still, we haven’t been given a sound explanation to what should be an obvious question: How does moving a bomb from the passenger cabin to the baggage hold make it less dangerous? Bombs hidden in checked luggage have been destroying planes for decades; see Pan Am, UTA, Air-India, and so on. Does TSA know something the rest of us don’t? Do they feel that detection systems are more effective at screening checked bags than carry-ons? Or, what’s this about “shaped charges” that some have brought up? What is the thinking here? TSA has been cagey in explaining its reasoning, while the media, for its part, has been ignoring this question almost completely. This can’t be as dumb as it looks on the surface. So, what it is?

Then there’s the fire risk. Restricting laptops and tablets to checked bags will result in the addition of thousands of lithium-ion batteries — a known fire hazard — to the underfloor holds aboard hundreds of U.S.-bound flights every day. Lithium batteries have started several onboard fires and were the cause of at least one fatal accident. For years, safety experts have been pushing hard to restrict them from cargo and luggage holds, where they pose the greatest danger. This basically upends much of their work. Ostensibly the ban is an attempt to make us safer, but in practice it might be doing the opposite.

Not to mention, all any terrorist with a laptop bomb would need to do is alter his or her routing. There are hundreds of daily flight to the U.S. from Asia, Africa, Canada or South America. (Or, is the ban going to spread, one continent at a time, until these flights too are affected.) Or, how about this: an attacker boards a plane in one of the restricted countries, the deadly laptop below deck. Upon arrival in the United States, he simply transfers to any one of countless domestic flights, which are not subject to a ban, and blows up that plane instead. I don’t see much of a deterrent here, if that’s the objective.

For passengers, it’s yet another inconvenience in the name of security. First it was sharp objects, then shoes, then liquids. Now it’s electronics. And rules like these, once in place, never go away. Security hassles seem only to get worse.

For airlines, this can’t possibly be good for business. It also presents a major logistical challenge — especially for U.S. carriers that primarily use older, smaller planes (the 767 and 757, for instance) on transatlantic routes. These planes have limited underfloor space, and many more passengers will suddenly be checking bags. This could have cascading effects that result in delays, capacity restrictions, and so forth. In addition, secondary screening areas will need to be set up at departure gates to allow hand-searching of carry-ons prior to boarding. (Primary screening is not destination-specific, and a terrorist could easily acquire a laptop computer from a passenger headed to a non-U.S. city once in the departures hall. This means that separate, at-the-gate screening would be required for every U.S.-bound flight.)

If there’s a winner here, maybe it’s Air Canada. By patronizing our neighbors to the north, travelers to the U.S. can connect to pretty much any major American city via Toronto or Montreal, and avoid the problem entirely.


ORIGINAL POST: March 20, 2017

ON MARCH 20th, the Transportation Security Administration suddenly announced that all electronic devices larger than a mobile phone are to be banned from the passenger cabins of all flights inbound to the United States from ten airports in the Middle East, Turkey, and Morocco. Devices like laptop computers and tablets can still be carried as checked luggage, but will not be permitted with carry-on bags. Explanations have been vague and the move has left some security experts scratching their heads. Nine airlines are affected: Royal Jordanian, Royal Air Maroc, Turkish Airlines, EgyptAir, Kuwait Airways, Saudia, Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways. No U.S. or European airlines are affected.

The Guardian sums things up better than I could, here. Of the points raised in that story, I would emphasize that the order will result in the addition of hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of lithium batteries — a known fire hazard that regulators and safety experts have been working to restrict from checked luggage — to the underfloor holds aboard more than fifty U.S.-bound flights every day. The rest of it is nothing if not peculiar. As the Guardian and others have pointed out, an explosive device in checked luggage isn’t any less dangerous than one in the cabin, necessarily. Bombs hidden in checked luggage have been destroying planes for decades; see Pan Am, UTA, Air-India, Avianca, and so on.

Meanwhile, a majority of passengers flying these airlines are merely transiting through their hubs, en route to or from third countries. The rule also fails to account for passengers whose journeys might originate in, or pass through one of the ten listed airports, but who connect elsewhere before continuing to the U.S. For instance, a passenger gets on a plane in Cairo, flies to Frankfurt, and there transfers to Lufthansa or one of the American carriers for an onward flight to New York, Los Angeles, Boston, or wherever. That passenger’s laptop is legal the whole way. All a terrorist would need to do is shift his routing through any of dozens of European or Asian gateways.

Such obvious loopholes make us wonder how much of this move is in the interest of safety, and how much of it is political. The airlines hardest hit are Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Etihad — the so-called “Gulf carriers,” also referred to as the “M.E.3” — whose flights to U.S. cities all are subject to the ban. The massive worldwide expansion of these carriers, which are state-owned and supported, has become increasingly controversial. Measured by international traffic, Emirates is now the biggest airline in the world, and the M.E.3’s Persian Gulf hubs in Dubai, Doha, and Abu Dhabi, have become a global crossroads, with hundreds of routes linking Asia, Africa, and Australia with the cities of Europe and North America. U.S. airlines have been lobbying regulators and lawmakers, citing an inability to compete with these heavily subsidized giants. Only a few weeks ago, airline leaders sat down with Trump administration officials to discuss the issue and press their cause. The new rules mean that all of the Gulf carriers’ U.S.-bound passengers, including many high-end business travelers, will be forced to fly without their tablets or computers. That can’t be good for business.

The impacted carriers have been scrambling to come up with workarounds. Etihad Airways has begun handing out loaner iPads to its premium class customers. Qatar Airways has gone a step further, lending full-sized laptops. Emirates and Turkish have introduced a gateside concierge service that allows travelers to use their devices right up to the moment of departure. Computers and tablets are collected by hand just before boarding, and sequestered in a special container in the cargo hold. Importantly for passengers, this allows them to use their devices on the first leg of any trip that connects through these airlines’ hubs in Dubai and Istanbul. An Emirates passenger flying from Chennai to New York, for example, need not surrender his or her laptop when first checking in, but may keep it all the way until departure from Dubai some hours later.

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55 Responses to “In-Cabin Electronics Ban is Officially Lifted”
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  1. The latest on this story (NYT) is that the specific intelligence behind the sudden security procedure was that ISIS could now make bombs that looked exactly like the battery in a laptop, at least to xrays, and that there was a way to detonate such a bomb. So the preventive strategy would be more chemical sniff tests for C4-like high explosive residues (which I am already seeing in Europe), and a return to asking the passenger to turn their laptop on and make the screen light up. This being fairly easy to achieve, I wonder why the 10 airports affected initially are still having to impose a laptop ban?

  2. Ian says:

    And another thing- hundreds of TSA workers have been fired for theft from passengers. Think of how much will be stolen when baggage is out of the watchful eyes of the owners. This will be like throwing the doors of the candy store open and calling out ” Help yourself”.

  3. Speed says:

    From the Wall Street Journal …

    Get Ready to Unpack for Airport Security
    Travelers should expect new procedures at TSA checkpoints later this year, with more carry-on items, like food and tablets, separated into bins

    Tests have begun …

    Many have been confused by unusual procedures. In Kansas City, Mo., in early May, screeners forced passengers to remove all paper from bags, down to notepads. That test didn’t go well and was halted after a few days, TSA says.

    The article includes a picture showing how an explosive could be packed inside a laptop computer.

  4. Speed says:

    Security expert Bruce Schneier writes …

    This measure is nothing more than security theater against what appears to be a movie-plot threat.

  5. Art Knight says:

    The Chicago Fire Department tried to murder Spider Man Dan Goodwin. Seriously, they tried to kill him, to knock him off of the Sears Tower with fire hoses! Fucking psychos!

  6. Art Knight says:


    The airlines are going the way of Sears. I went in there to exchange a broken socket wrench and nobody…NOBODY was in the tool department. The appliance guy was pissed that I bothered him. I asked if it would be okay if I just walked out with the new socket.

    I remember ascending that gorgeous tower, my ears popping. The sounds of Richard Strauss’ “Sprach Zarathustra.” It is now “Willis tower. I remember “Spider Dan” Goodwin scaling it with levers and suction cups.

    I remember when we had pride, the terrorists have won.

  7. Art Knight says:

    Eric says:
    May 12, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    I just wonder how much international (or even national) business travel is really required. So much can be done online both with video and audio as to make virtual face-to-face a reality. I suspect it won’t be much longer before companies just decide to cut their travel budgets and conduct business virtually.

    EXACTLY! I am torn, because I love aviation, but if they keep treating guests as criminals, well…I was so excited to fly and now I feel like I am being checked into the county jail. It truly is an air bus.

  8. Tod says:

    News just in.
    Australia is also now considering following the lead of America with this one.

  9. JD says:

    Another silly loophole in this… If a potential terrorist does for some reason need a laptop in the cabin for placing against the cabin wall for a shaped explosive, it is easy to get one through security because other passengers on other flights out of those airports can bring their laptops through. So the terrorist buys a ticket from say Dubai to the NYC. Another accomplice buys a ticket from Dubai to a destination that doesn’t have a laptop ban that departs from the same terminal. After going through security with their laptop, the accomplice simply hands it to the terrorist in the terminal who hides it in their carry on when boarding.

    • Patrick says:

      Excellent thinking, except… passengers on flights to the U.S. from the * currently * restricted cities must undergo secondary screening at the gate, in which carry-ons are opened and checked. Presumably this policy would be expanded to include European flights.

      This would be a major logistical undertaking, requiring additional security staff and changes at the boarding lounges, which is maybe one of the reasons the ban hasn’t yet been made official.

  10. Alan Dahl says:

    Second question, does “Europe” include Iceland? The article I saw said “European Union and UK” which could possibly exclude Iceland, a boon for Icelandair and WOW should this be the case. Also how will this affect flights out of Shannon where there is USA customs? Will these flights be included as well?

  11. Alan Dahl says:

    Interesting that you mentioned Air Canada as my mother is likely travelling to Europe with them rather than an American airline as the cost to get there from Vancouver is $600 – $800 less than Seattle, more than enough to cover the cost of a commuter flight or taking a train/bus. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Air Canada increase their Seattle->Vancouver shuttle service to take advantage of this.

    • Ian says:

      Rather a surprise to we Canadians. I frequently fly from Seattle to instead of Vancouver because the flights from SEA are often cheaper than from YVR, even with the exchange rate. It pays to compare.

  12. Julie says:

    Does the existing ban include all cameras, or only digital cameras? If you wanted to bring an old-school camera that uses film, would you have to check it?

  13. Isabel says:

    I seem to recall a few instances of Note 7 combustion while turned off; that was probably caused by the physical battery flaw (after so many charging cycles the membrane became so compromised that any jostling could set it off).

  14. Bob says:

    Are there any reports of electronics – in the fully off mode – spontaneously combusting? I have seen youtubes of laptops bursting into flames, but these were all switched on, prior to igniting.

    By no means am I supporting the ban, but the baggage mis-handlers concern me more than lithium batteries in the hold.

  15. Rob says:

    Why just Europe, and not Asia, Australia, Central and South America? And Mexico. And Canada. And domestic flights….

  16. Stephen Stapleton says:

    “For airlines, this can’t possibly be good for business.”

    Au contraire, mon frère. I think of this as a great opportunity for airlines. They can now RENT us laptops for use during our flights. We can put what we need on a thumb drive (I just bought two the size of paperclips that held 8 gigs each for $10, so they are all-but free)) and the laptop can have basic software, maybe a Google Chromebook or something similar. The laptops could have different price points for power and premium software along with plans for WiFi. Need to check email? Basic WiFi will do. Want to watch movies? Premium WiFi is what you need. The laptops can be selected and paid for before boarding, then passed out after the captain has turned off the seatbelt light. No having to get passengers to turn off their laptops for takeoff as they won’t have them yet and the plane need only carry the laptops the passengers selected. I would easily pay an extra $100 for a five or more hour flight to have access to a laptop. Chromebooks run from $100 to $300, so they pay for themselves in a few flights.

    • mitch says:

      The new rules don’t make sense, but if we’re stuck with them there are alternatives to munching on your own or the airline’s [yuck] food, or watching censored movies with unintelligible soundtracks,
      or too much $8 booze.

      Back in the last century, when dinosaurs walked the Earth and airplanes had propellers, flights were much longer and noisier, without any music or movies. No one even imagined laptops and wi-fi. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear [for extra [points, what’s the source of this phrase?] when passengers could
      /a/ talk to each other – much easier now that cabins are quieter
      /b/use paper, pens [ballpoint, not fountain] or pencils and write something by hand
      /c/ bring a book or several and READ. The libraries in our neighborhood sell old paperbacks for a $1 each. Read and discard or give it to a fellow passenger. Or trade with someone.
      /d/ if you’re lucky, look out the window. Greenland from 35,000 ft for example. By night, city lights, the Moon, sometimes even the aurora.
      /d/ try to sleep

  17. mitch says:

    The new rules don’t make much sense.
    As others have noted, several airliners have been brought down by explosives in the cargo hold. In the cabin there are passengers and crew to overpower anyone trying anything [the underwear and shoe bombers]. Cabins are larger than cargo holds, so there is more volume to mitigate an explosion. The cabin is farther away from critical systems like control cables, fuel lines and tanks, plus wire bundles, avionics, and hydraulics.
    Despite all the movies showing bullets through a window sending an airplane into a wild plunge, a shaped charge next to a sidewall would probably not bring it down, although it would suddenly decompress the airplane.
    Once again the TSA demonstrates that if they can’t dazzle us with brilliance, they will baffle us with bull___.

  18. Tony R says:

    TSA just gets worse. I get frustrated because I opted in to the program Global Entry and pre check from the beginning, paid money and had a background check done on me and fingerprinted. I travel a lot and now the TSA Pre Check lines are longer with “Rookies” getting a free pass through and not knowing the procedure holding me up, and not being checked like I was.

  19. Alan says:

    And rules like these, once in place, never go away. Security hassles seem only to get worse.

    Not necessarily. I fly nowhere near as much as I used to but the last few flights I took on the majority of them I did not need to take off my shoes or take my laptop out of my bag. Just the walk-through metal scanner.

    Right now I seem to get randomly selected for “TSA-PRE” which, when you get it, rolls back some of the more egregious features of the security theater. It may not seem like much or get much press but at least someone in the system chain of command is trying to implement a bit of sanity.

  20. Eric says:

    Philippine Airlines flight 434 was almost brought down by a bomb in 1994 that had been planted by a previous confederate. The bomb was ignited by a watch carried by the suicide bomber. As watches and phones have become more sophisticated, I suspect it won’t be long before they will be banned as well.

  21. Art Knight says:

    In other news, apparently it is perfectly acceptable to have an open flame on a machine whose wings are filled with tons of kerosene. I feel much safer now.

    JERUSALEM, April 15, 2017. /TASS/. A special aircraft carrying a flame of the Holy Fire has taken off from Tel Aviv’s airport heading for Moscow.

    After the Holy Fire descended on the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, Yakunin ignited his lamp from the lamp of Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem.

    The Holy Fire is to arrive in Moscow at about 23.00 Moscow Time (20.00 GMT). Traditionally, hundreds of believers meet the Foundation’s delegation at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport for bringing it to parishes of Moscow, the Moscow region and across Russia. In 2017, the first ever flame of the Holy Fire will be brought to London.

    Waiting for the Holy Fire

    On the eve of Orthodox Easter, Christians flock to Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher, waiting for a miracle. In the morning, the church that can seat as many as 10,000 worshippers becomes crowded. The expectation can last between five minutes to a few hours.

    The Holy Fire ignites on the tomb of Jesus Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, also called the Church of Resurrection. The fire has been descending each Hol

    • mitch says:

      Ceremonial open flames on aircraft are nothing new – Olympic torches have been transported world wide for many years.
      Anything leaving TLV has to pass Israel’s very rigorous airport security. The “special airplane” was probably a cargo jet, so no passengers were endangered. It is reasonable to assume that the flame was contained in a cage equipped with fire extinguishers. The cage itself was probably in mid-cabin with lots of space around it, very accessible to the crew.
      If all else fails, open the outflow valve and decompress the cabin, thus starving the flame of oxygen.

      • Jim Meadows says:

        You can bring on duty free booze so not only do you have the capacity for a lot of open flame but you have a broken bottle and that can’t possibly do any harm.

    • Bob says:

      Before I quit, I used to light my cigarettes with an open flame, while sitting in seat 14J

  22. Art Knight says:

    Dick Waitt Says: “…in the case of a suicide bomber, that device might be activated more easily if it is directly in the hands of the bomber rather than in the cargo hold.”

    @Dick Waiit: Have you ever used a garage door opener? It is much easier than doing it manually. The Boston Marathon bombers triggered their pressure cooker bombs with remote control transmitters and receivers from radio-control toys. That’s why they survived the explosions. One to go to prison and one (I lovingly nick-named “Speed-bump”)who got driven over by his little brother.

    I’m so glad I don’t fly much anymore. I worked at a company where most everyone traveled. We were still expected to do our regular job. I created Powerpoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets and charts on my laptop, seated in coach.

    It’s bad enough I had to remove my $2,000 laptop from it’s $300 perfectly-padded case and place it in a dirty cheap plastic tote to rumble loosely down a bumpy conveyor, while I took my $150 Bostonian wing-tips off and walked through a dirty airport in my $15 socks.

    I did eventually start wearing only a shirt, shorts and Sperry Top-siders with no socks.

  23. Jane Anderson says:

    Just heard your interview on The World. Another couple of factors that were not mentioned about the pending electronics ban: Who is going to deal with damage and theft of electronic devices? Airline insurance specifically excludes electronics and cameras.

    No one has mentioned the costs to passengers. I am a photographer who travels for photo tours, carrying 1-2 DSLR bodies plus 2-3 lens with electronic focusing motors, spare lithium batteries (which I was previously forbidden to check), a laptop and external hard drives for processing and backing up photos. On my last trip, the bag with that equipment was 26 pounds, just qualifying as carry on. In order to pack to protect against baggage handlers, I will have to buy a hard shell bag and provide more padding – checking that bag in addition to my first bag, or packing everything in one and paying overweight charges. This also ignores the fact that many photo tours requires passengers to bring small soft-sided personal bags that can be condensed in the limited van storage space. Many forbid hard-shell luggage. Catch-22, anyone?

    Nor has anyone mentioned the havoc of a 10-16 hour flight with children who will be without their laptop games and movies – let alone the rest of us without e-readers. I understand that newer planes are omitting entertainment systems as they expect passengers to bring their own devices in this modern age. What a mess this is.

    • Kevin says:

      I second this comment. I went to Africa in 2015, and carried an 18-pound photo backpack with about $5K in equipment. Hard cases were prohibited on the trip. Most camera bags and packs are not designed to withstand rough treatment in a cargo hold, with heavy hardsides tossed on top of them. Moreover, they are an obvious invitation for theft.

      I expect that airlines will soon offer a dedicated space in the cabin (perhaps lockable overhead bins) where electronics can be placed before takeoff, and retrieved after landing.

      For an additional fee, of course.

    • Craig says:

      I agree with this. Laptops are not designed for the abuse that baggage handlers routinely inflict on checked bags. Travelers will need to purchase the best protective covers they can for their electronics and even then the shaking will cause many laptops to fail earlier than normal.

      In addition, just about everyone traveling to and from Europe on business plans to do work on the plane. It’s such a big time chunk that you’ll need to do this to make up from the office time you’re missing.

      I’m definitely going via Canada if this ban is in place on my next trip.

  24. Pat D says:

    This is just the stupidest airline rule I’ve ever heard of. It is the folks back in coach who are going to get hostile. A 11+ hour trip without work or entertainment. What are they thinking?

  25. QVRQ says:

    Shaped explosives.
    Comments in another article noted that the concern was based on someone building a laptop with shaped charges replacing part of the battery. The laptop could then be placed directly on the wall of the plane and detonated – the shaped charge would direct most of the force towards the fuselage, probably creating a large hole.
    This scenario requires the attacker to actively place the explosive where it can do some damage. The same device in the cargo hold would not have the same effect.
    This explanation makes some sense, but I have not been able to find anything official in my brief searches on the web. Nor could I find why it has become a concern now; shaped charges have been around for a while. Heck, Mythbusters used them to blow up a plane back in 2004.

  26. Simon says:

    So The Daily Beast reports today that Homeland Security might be expanding the laptop ban to all flights from Europe to the US. Laptops will be disallowed from the cabin and will have to be checked in hold luggage. They claim it could be announced as soon as Thu.

    I wonder if any government body ever investigated the efficacy of such a measure. And how much larger is this supposed “terrorist threat” than the very real threat of unstable Li ion batteries now being able to combust without human intervention since they’ll all be tucked away in the hold where nobody will see or hear them explode, let alone have coolant and/or an extinguisher at hand to prevent catastrophic damage.

    Patrick, would you care to enlighten your reads on how good fire suppression in the hold is these days? And considering you’re the pilot, if you had a choice would you rather have a battery explode in C class or in the hold? 😉

  27. YD14 says:

    This move will also affect the aircraft market. The airlines of Middle East like Emirates, ethihad and qatar will choose planes like 777, 787 or a350 over a380 because of reduced passengers and therefore profit Boeing an American company in its new projects like 777x and 787-10

  28. Curt J Sampson says:

    If this sort of nonsense continues, perhaps airlines will start offering HDMI inputs on the seat-back displays and USB keyboards and trackpads to passengers. Then tiny but full-fledged computers like the Raspberry Pi Zero (or phones, with the right software) could be used for productive work on board.

  29. Jeffrey Latten says:

    Yet another example of killing a mosquito with a nuclear weapon. Knee-jerk regulation that basically accomplishes nothing for safety and everything for hindrance to busy passengers who want to put time in the air to useful work.

  30. Eric Welch says:

    Unless screening of luggage is a lot better than I suspect it is, this will place more burdens on those who screen luggage and much easier to get a bomb on a plane. To my knowledge, none of the bombs that have brought down planes have been in laptops. Lockerbie wasn’t and the Philippines’ 747 bomb was triggered by a watch.

  31. Speed says:

    The reasoning behind the ban according to CNN …

    (CNN)US intelligence and law enforcement agencies believe that ISIS and other terrorist organizations have developed innovative ways to plant explosives in electronic devices that FBI testing shows can evade some commonly used airport security screening methods, CNN has learned.

    Heightening the concern is US intelligence suggesting that terrorists have obtained sophisticated airport security equipment to test how to effectively conceal explosives in laptops and other electronic devices.

    • Patrick says:

      That still doesn’t explain the picking of the ten airports. Neither does it address the glaringly obvious loopholes that any halfwit terrorist could exploit.

  32. Speed says:

    In a piece discussing alternatives to a laptop for getting useful work done using a phone on an airplane, Ed Bott wrote, “What’s odd to me is that all of these scenarios seemed forced and unnecessary when I tested them a few years ago. Today, thanks to new political realities, they seem depressingly relevant.”

    • Eric says:

      I just wonder how much international (or even national) business travel is really required. So much can be done online both with video and audio as to make virtual face-to-face a reality. I suspect it won’t be much longer before companies just decide to cut their travel budgets and conduct business virtually.

  33. Claudio Cerasoli says:

    I wonder how anyone could ever believe that a ban impacting some foreign airlines and no US airlines is a security measure and not a protectionist scheme

  34. Kevin Brady says:

    The government seems to make decisions based on politics first however, it is possible this quote applies”never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity”

    • UncleStu says:

      “it is possible this quote applies ”never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity”

      It is also possible that this applies; “never attribute to stupidity that which can be explained by malice”.

      In this case, I think it is both malice and stupidity.

  35. Dick Waitt says:

    One difference between a “large” electronic device carried in the passenger compartment and the same device stowed as luggage is that, in the case of a suicide bomber, that device might be activated more easily if it is directly in the hands of the bomber rather than in the cargo hold.

    That said, I’m sure there are methods which might be used to remotely activate such an explosive device.

    Alternately, the check-in process might require that such a device carried on board might be powered-up to demonstrate to that it is what it is claimed to be. This should involve some sort of procedure other than showing that the screen lights up and some LEDs come on…

  36. Speed says:

    ” … many high-end business travelers, will be forced to travel without their tablets or computers. That can’t be good for business.”

    Good for book sales. Better get a few cases of Ask the Pilot and Cockpit Confidential to those airports.

  37. Joshua Meldon says:

    After reviewing the intelligence the U.K. followed suit and issued a similar directive. If this is a political conspiracy then the US was able to get the U.K. to play along- doubtful. The fire danger with lithium ion batteries is when they are not inserted into a device and the batteries short. If a laptop battery is still in the laptop, then all is OK.

    • Patrick says:

      The UK ban specifically exempts Dubai, Doha, and Abu Dhabi from the list (the three big Gulf carrier hubs).

    • Curt J Sampson says:

      A lot of ex-owners of Samsung Note 7s would disagree with you that batteries are ok if they’re in the device.

      Without question, the safest place for a lithium-ion battery, in a device or not, is in the cabin where it’s much easier to isolate and extinguish than if it’s not accessible to the crew.

  38. Alan Dahl says:

    Etihad has responded by offering free iPads and inflight WiFi to first class passengers but of course that leaves business class and coach passengers without options. I too am flummoxed by this new rule, it certainly makes these flights less safe, not more. I can only assume it’s for the very reason you suggest, to punish Middle Eastern airlines and by extension their governments. Here’s hoping this careless rulemaking doesn’t result in the loss of an aircraft!