The United States’ Department of Homeland Security has proposed to ban the use of laptops and tablets on airplanes, and this proposal is currently generating kicks from several businesses and passengers across the world. When or how this ban will be implemented remains sketchy, but several governments from the European Union met with officials of Homeland Security to discuss the issue last Friday.
The United States had before this time banned the use of laptops and tablets on airplanes coming from 10 African and Middle East countries, now this ban is being considered to be extended to flights coming in from Europe.
According to the US Department of Transportation statistics, about 400 flights per day bring in as many as 60 million people from trans-Atlantic routes in Europe per year; with about 10 million people travelling from the US to the Middle East annually. Apart from the fact that many airlines will be worse hit by the ban on the use of electronic devices in-flight, the inconvenience and loss of business it will cause to passengers can only be imagined.
While passengers may not be allowed to use electronic devices such as laptops and tablets while flying, they will be required to have it stored away in their luggage in the cargo holding area. And this idea is raising questions on the relative safety of keeping large numbers of electronics using lithium batteries in the cargo area since lithium batteries are known to catch fire.
US officials have been quick to state that the idea behind the proposed ban on using laptops on international flights is not necessarily because it posed a particular problem, but simply because terrorists have been known to target jetliners and they could use laptops to set off a bomb planted on the plane.
Officials from Homeland Security had a meeting with top officials of American airlines, Delta airlines and United airlines – the United State’s three largest airlines, on Thursday. Airlines for America, the largest trade group for American airlines, was also at the meeting. Representatives would not go into the specificity of the meeting, but it was obvious they were all resigned to the inevitability of the proposed ban.
Since this proposed ban seems inevitable, it seems passengers are left with no choice than to plan how to occupy themselves during long international flights to fight off boredom. Many passengers use laptops and tablets to stay on top of their business during flights, and others for entertainment.
Businessmen have however been advised to seek ways to secure their laptops and backup sensitive data before surrendering their electronic devices to airline officials, or better still to keep it at home for increased safety.