Flying without your laptop? Don’t worry. It can be done – Chicago Tribune
The list of air travel restrictions could get longer and more annoying as the Trump administration this week considers banning large electronic devices, including laptops and tablets, on board flights from Europe to the U.S.
For flyers on United and American, the two biggest global carriers out of O’Hare International Airport, this probably will be seen as another unwelcome, meddlesome and onerous show of government authority over air travelers’ lives.
Business flyers, who often work on their laptops during trans-Atlantic flights, will be really peeved about such a prohibition, which is not expected to include hand-held electronic devices or smartphones.
Inconvenient as it would be, this electronic device ban could prove to be a necessary safety precaution. If so, I expect most airline passengers — a resilient lot — would adapt to a new restriction, despite claims by an influential global travel industry group that such an electronic device ban will cost businesses up to $1.1 billion, mostly in lost employee productivity.
Passengers having access to spreadsheets on a laptop computer isn’t international law enforcement’s biggest concern.
Recently, government intelligence reports determined that terrorists are finding ways to use large electronic devices to detonate explosives on board an aircraft.
In March, the Department of Homeland Security issued a partial laptop ban on U.S. inbound fights coming from 10 Middle Eastern airports, and afterward Great Britain joined the embargo.
Now the U.S. is considering widening the restriction to include flights from airports throughout Europe to this country and is discussing the matter this week with representatives of the European Union.
If an expanded ban is adopted, laptops, tablets, video cameras and portable DVD players on about 350 daily inbound European flights to the U.S. would have to be stowed in checked luggage. United and American handle scores of Europe-to-O’Hare flights daily.
While not having our personal gizmos close at hand during a five- to eight-hour flight may be the modern day definition of cruel and unusual punishment, I’m for giving the government the benefit of the doubt as to whether an embargo is required.
Yes, even during the inauspicious and often capricious start of the Trump administration, it’s prudent to heed the warnings of on-the-job law enforcement and security experts tracking possible threats.
Business travel advocates aren’t there yet.
Among the most vociferous opponents to expanding the ban is the International Air Transport Association, an aviation industry trade group.
It would prefer adopting upfront security measures, such as more aggressive use of bomb-sniffing dogs or tracing equipment, instead of prohibiting the devices from coming on board. The Washington-based domestic airline lobbying group, Airlines for America, also favors this approach.
Government and industry representatives are hoping to bang out a compromise, so we’ll see what emerges.
Nonetheless, should a broader electronic device ban be imposed, it probably won’t be as disruptive to business and commerce as the travel experts would have us believe.
Flyers could still carry smartphones on the plane, and while that may not provide the breadth and depth of working on a laptop, they’re pretty powerful and capable of many of the same laptop applications.
Moreover, will being stopped from bringing a laptop or tablet on board really discourage a senior corporate executive or manager from making an important trip to London, Paris or Frankfurt?
If there’s a deal to be made or a client to be cajoled, these road warriors will hop on a plane and not care very much if their laptop or tablet goes along for the ride. They’ll find a way to make it work.
What’s more, if overseas travel becomes too much of a hassle, business meetings still will occur with the use of video conferencing or just staying at your desk and tapping into Skype.
These days, when you fly it pays to be flexible — even if that means being inconvenienced because your laptop or tablet is temporarily out of your immediate reach during the flight.
After all, you can always bring a good book.