Business Travel Is Already Affected By Potential Expansion Of The Laptop Ban

A day hasn’t gone by since the inception of the electronics ban on flights from some Middle East countries that the topic hasn’t crossed my path.  There was an initial scramble to figure out how real it was, then a scramble to figure out how to deal with it.  Not long after we started to hear rumblings that the ban might extend to flights from European countries to the US as well.

We even had what seemed like definitive confirmation at one point that, ahem, “stuff” was getting real.

Things have quieted down the last few days, to the point that there are now rumors to the contrary.  Interestingly, there are some indications that a ban is still imminent, even in the face of statements that it’s under consideration.

You would think no ban in place is a good thing for business travelers, right?  Think again.  Business travelers may be more likely to book trips on short notice.  But, overseas trips can be planned months in advance.  I’m actually in that quandary right now.  I have multiple business trips overseas between now and the end of the year.  I’m waiting as long as I can to book tickets so I have the clearest picture on what to expect.

David Koenig and Joyce Rosenberg highlight this concern in their published Associated Press piece today (and quote my concerns):

Pizzarello won’t put his everyday laptop in checked luggage — “too much sensitive info.” So he might buy a cheaper machine to use on the outgoing flight and while in Europe, then wipe it clean before checking it on the return flight. He is also considering flying back through Canada to sidestep the ban, although that would likely cost more.

“Maybe I don’t take the trip,” he said. “That’s one of the options. It’s not my first option.”

I’m not the only one:

David Lewis, who operates a human-resources consulting firm in Connecticut, said he would prefer closer inspection of his laptop over getting on a plane without it.

“I will wind up working four to five straight hours, which is like 15 in an office because of the lack of interruptions,” Lewis said of his trans-Atlantic flights. “It’s going to have an adverse effect on how often I’m going to make those trips.”

Different People Will Find Different Solutions

I’m waiting to book my flights to figure out if I need to route through Canada.  There hasn’t been any significant noise that Canada will follow the US into a laptop ban for flights from Europe.  That’s my best-case scenario for traveling overseas.  Buying a “disposable” laptop is likely my second choice, with canceling trips pretty far down my priority list.  I’ve thought about just booking the extra connection to Canada now and being done with it, but I’d still rather fly non-stop (or one less connection) if I can.

Laptop Ban

I understand there are very real security risks associated with air travel.  These are not easy decision to make, for sure.  The primary concern I’ve heard from fellow business travelers is that when the government institutes temporary measures, they’re not quick to do away with them (see little plastic baggies with liquids).  Putting a temporary electronics in place may not be a very temporary measure.

The post Business Travel Is Already Affected By Potential Expansion Of The Laptop Ban Was published first on Pizza in  Motion.

3 Comments

  1. If I had a trip that were impacted by that policy, I’d take the SSD out of my laptop to put in my pocket and put the laptop in a laptop shipping box inside my checked luggage. (Not all laptops have removable disk drives; mine does since I replaced the original HDD with an SSD.)

    Even without traveling to/from regions where such policy might be in place, I’m beginning to think I want to power down my laptop when crossing borders, so that if required to hand over the laptop for “inspection”, the contents of my disk remain encrypted. That doesn’t stop the authorities from planting a keylogger into my laptop’s BIOS firmware, but that’s probably much harder.

  2. It’s not just laptops affected, of course. I returned from a photo safari in Africa this week, and avoided coming home through Europe in case the ban went through while I was traveling. Checking over $5000 worth of camera gear? I don’t think so – not even if I’d dragged along a hard case.

    1. Ella, you’re absolutely right. It’s why we didn’t know how painful an expansion would be. Assumedly, it would be all the same electronics banned, which would affect so many groups. I wonder how hard it would be to get reimbursed by an airline for $5,000 in camera gear.

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