No fly zone

I breathed a sigh of relief today when I read that Trump et al. have decided not to go ahead with an all-out laptop ban on flights landing in the USA. Heightened security measures and extra screening, those I can live with [even if the logic behind singling out those particular six countries for special treatment is also beyond me…]. But not letting me take my laptop on board? That is one sure way to put me on a train or make the USA a no-fly zone for me going forward.

I can count on one hand the number of times my baggage has gone astray. But I could fill telephone books with the names and addresses of others who have lost theirs – for days, weeks, and even months at a time. Add to this list, stories of opened luggage and missing items, and it certainly wouldn’t entice me to pack my laptop into my checked luggage and hope for the best.

No doubt there’s a whole generation of people coming up behind me who store all their information in the cloud and don’t need a personal laptop to access it. Any laptop or iPad or whatever will do. More still will be accessing emails and such on their watches. Me, I’m old school. My fingers are used to my keyboard, my laptop. I don’t want to have to retrain them every trip to navigate someone else’s machine. But I can see the way the bytes are falling and no doubt, any day now, I’ll run out of options and simply have to conform.

Jon Russell wrote up his experiences of travelling without devices on Emirates back in May for TechCrunch. It cleared up a lot for me. I had wondered whether laptops, tablets, kindles, and cameras would be seized at random and disposed of (like offending liquids or sharp objects), or whether they’d be boxed, checked and delivered once you land. It’s the latter, apparently.

But when was it decided that laptops and tablets were the bad guys? What happened to shoes and large tubes of toothpaste? Who decides this stuff? Is there an anti-Apple lobbyist at the back of it all? And would it really matter whether the laptop was in the cabin or in the hold?  [Think Lockerbie and Pan Am flight 103.] If it’s going to blow, it’ll blow. I’m not getting it. I simply don’t understand how rational minds can reason this. Didn’t anyone do a cost-benefit analysis?

And how would these rules be universally applied? I can bring a penknife on board a flight leaving from Budapest Liszt Ferenc Airport (as long as the blade is no more than 3 cm in length) but I can’t bring a set of tweezers out of Havana. I can’t bring a knitting needle on board, but I can bring an umbrella, with its myriad spokes that could be sharpened to lethal ends. And don’t get me started on liquids. I am all for security. I’m all for screening. I’m all for making the airways safer to travel. But honestly, lads, can’t we rethink some of this?

So, as long as airlines comply with the new rules, then the laptop ban won’t be expanded. And those countries where the laptop ban currently applies, they’ll have a chance to get off the list, if they comply. It’ll mean tagging on an extra hour to your flight for more extensive pre-boarding security checks, but hey… that’s the price of flying these days.

But it’s time to start working on my bagging-handling trust issues and on curbing my separation anxiety – just in case.


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