Not My Laptop! New Ban Troubles Airline Passengers

As the indignities of modern air travel go, the latest ban on laptops and tablets on some international flights falls somewhere between having to take off your ratty shoes at the security checkpoint and having your baby food and milk tested for bomb residue.

It's yet another inconvenience in the name of security for weary travelers, especially those from or passing through the 10 mostly Middle Eastern and North African countries covered by new U.S. and British policies. While it's not quite as disruptive as an outright ban on smartphones -- much less a travel ban based on nationality -- the laptop limitation loomed large for some people as they prepared to travel.

"Why are only Middle Eastern airlines subject to this ban?" asked Kelsey Norman, a doctoral student who plans to fly home Friday to Los Angeles from Beirut -- and expects to have to check her laptop, a Kindle tablet and her DSLR camera. "Overall this policy is inconvenient, discriminatory, and continues to hurt America's rapidly deteriorating reputation globally."

Ban Logic

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security rules forbid laptop computers, tablets, Kindles, some gaming devices, cameras and other electronics larger than a smartphone in carry-on baggage. The U.S. government cited unspecified threats as the reason for the ban. The U.K. government instituted a similar ban; neither government's restrictions affect U.S.-based airlines.

On the positive side, items people can still carry into the airline cabin include smartphones, overstuffed duffel bags, winter coats, tiny bottles of hand lotion, Tupperware containers full of tuna salad, earplugs, nose hair trimmers, and babies. For now, at least -- tomorrow could bring a new unspecified threat and with it a new ban.

Lost Productivity

Other travelers, especially of the dutiful business variety, worried that laptops in checked bags could be stolen, damaged or compromised -- and that in the meantime,...

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