If you’re flying to America from the UK or elsewhere, you could yet be facing an extension of the much-talked-about US laptop ban.
Currently, America prohibits the use of laptops or large tablets in the cabin on flights from 10 airports across eight countries: Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
This is because of fears that electronic devices could be used to smuggle explosives on board an aircraft. However, rumours have circulated for weeks that flights from Europe – including the UK – could face the ban, too.
Laptop ban part two?
In May, US and EU officials met to discuss extending the cabin ban on electronic devices for flights to America. However, they did not extend the ban to flights arriving from Europe at that time. Instead, the deputy secretary of homeland security for the US, Elaine Duke, pledged to keep European officials informed of developments.
After the meeting, a statement was issued, which read: “At the meeting, both sides exchanged information on the serious evolving threats to aviation security and approaches to confronting such threats.
“Participants provided insight into existing aviation security standards and detection capabilities as well as recent security enhancements on both sides of the Atlantic related to large electronic devices placed in checked baggage.”
However, with recent reports revealing that the US department of homeland security is still considering a similar ban on all international flights to the US, there are sure to be further discussions in the coming weeks – and we could yet see a ban imposed.
The UK restrictions
Business travellers are likely to be highly inconvenienced by the ban. Similar restrictions already affect those of us travelling back into the UK from six other countries. You currently cannot carry large phones, tablets and e-readers in the cabin on flights to the UK from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tunisia, making it harder to work and stay connected while you fly. The UK ban does not affect flights from the United Arab Emirates.
The British Travel Coalition has spoken out against any further implementation of the ban. Chairman Kevin Mitchell was quoted last year as saying: “Well beyond lost inflight productivity, the significantly larger consequence of a potential electronics ban is if, for example, a business traveller is going to London for a week, he will not have his laptop with him.
“That, for most business travellers, will be an absolute no-go, a deal-breaker. That’s where a dramatic fall-off in business travel demand would be based. A monthly trip to London becomes a once-a-quarter one.”
A solution to the laptop ban?
There are solutions in the works, however. Last month we reported that airlines including Etihad Airways are offering business travellers their own laptops to hire on flights to America. Similar solutions could be rolled out across other carriers.