The electronics ban, first imposed by the U.S., now joined by the UK has raised many questions from travellers and airlines alike.
Inconsistencies in the policies of the two countries joining the ban, and the fact that countries like Germany and France have so far decided not to participate in this ban have only raised more questions.
For example, carriers from the UAE must comply on flights to the U.S. but not on flights to the UK. The UK ban also includes national carriers, though the reason for exclusion of US carriers from the US ban is a matter of lack of service by those carriers to affected regions.
Business Travellers Most Affected
Because of the devices included in the ban, business travellers are most affected, confused, and seeking guidance, according to the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE).
Global business travel managers, representing thousands of business travellers, have reached to the ACTE for guidance.
“Without any explanation, the United States government banned major electronic devices that constitute the basic tools of business travel from the cabins of flights from select airports in the Middle East. Now the United Kingdom has followed suit and Canada is reported to be giving the issue serious consideration,” said ACTE Executive Director Greeley Koch. “But the restrictions make no sense. Assuming there is a new terrorist technology, there is nothing to stop someone from carry[ing] one of these devices to Amsterdam, and then boarding a flight to the US or the UK.”
Koch asked, “Does the Department of Homeland Security know about a threat so great that it can’t be shared with the business travel industry? Or are these latest restrictions about to resonate as the new norm the world over? Speculation rivals uncertainty for bad news in the travel industry. Answers are needed now.”
Koch remarked that technology is transferrable. “How long will it be before this ban is extended to flights from Paris and Brussels into the UK and US?”
Many business travellers are concerned about the prospect of checking computers or tablets may hold detailed and proprietary corporate information in the cargo hold of an aircraft. In some cases, corporate policy may prohibit employees from doing so.
“The first rule in business travel is not to be separated from anything essential to the success of your trip. And the most important component is your laptop or tablet. Travellers who do not check baggage normally, will now have to check their laptops, tablets, and e-readers on the affected flights. Baggage goes missing every day. Can you imagine the consequences of losing a week’s, or a month’s work, plus your confidential corporate data to a luggage theft?” Koch said.
Koch also mentioned that many business travellers do not check luggage, and that checking luggage will add to the cost of business travel.
“Travellers want the best security,” said Koch. “But without further explanation, these new restrictions will do nothing but breed further skepticism in government’s perception of business travel. They want security that is less reactionary and based more on eliminating potential threats before they evolve. And they want an explanation.”
Tnooz has also reported on questions raised by the GBTA in response to the electronics ban.
“Nearly half (49%) of business travellers prefer to stay connected and get work done while flying. Not allowing them to bring their devices on the plane cuts productivity, taking away time that they can be getting business done,” the group states.
IATA has issued a statement on the electronics ban, including its impact on air travel.
Calculations by the airline association show that the UK ban will impact about 393 scheduled passenger flights per week, equivalent to about 2.7% of the total international scheduled passenger flights to the UK.
The US ban will impact about 350 scheduled flights a week, equivalent to about 2% of total international flights to the US.
IATA included the following comment:
“Safety and security is the top priority of everyone involved in aviation. Airlines comply with government requirements and they can do this most effectively when measures are well coordinated.”