A couple of months ago the Trump administration, in conjunction with the FAA, implemented an electronics travel ban on portable electronic devices coming into the United States from eight Middle Eastern countries, and two African countries. To say this ban has had a ripple affect, would be an understatement. Additionally, it’s completely unnecessary as I will explain in a moment.
This electronics travel ban includes everything you can imagine, from cameras, computers, tablets, drones to larger smartphones. Not only is this an entertainment nightmare for those on long-haul flights, but sensitive personal data is being taken out of your possession and being forced into checked luggage where any number of things can occur—from theft, damage to privacy security issues. This is not only a nightmare for passengers, but also for the airlines as they will ultimately be the ones responsible for enforcement. Adding to the ripple affect is lost productivity by business travelers. The cost of this regulation is enormous!
While I can appreciate the effort to protect the traveling public, the fact is, where there is a will, there is a way. There is simply no way to defend against most nefarious acts. Additionally, how on earth does checking electronic devices protect anyone? I’m hypothesizing the threat to be some sort of electronic explosive that officials are attempting to protect against, but if smaller cell phones are allowed on board, they could certainly act as a trigger. Is the simplest way to guard against an electronic attack not to have TSA make each passenger turn on their electronic devices before passing through security? This was the case for a few years following 9/11. Perhaps there is something else at play that me and other pundits are not considering, but on the surface this electronics travel ban seems to be an massive inconvenience and a huge fleecing of time and productivity.
If we sacrifice our liberties for the sake of security, we will surely lose both – Benjamin Franklin
Current airlines affected by the electronics travel ban (but this could increase substantially as you continue reading):
- Emirates Airline
- Etihad Airways
- Kuwait Airways
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Air Maroc
- Royal Jordanian Airlines
- Saudi Arabian Airlines
- Turkish Airlines.
If the first wave of countries on this electronics travel ban were not enough, the White House is now likely going to expand the ban to all of Europe. While Dubai and Istanbul were without a doubt the two major hubs effecting the most flights, if Europe is included in the electronics travel ban, this will affect most flights around the world. I am no security expert, but I do know that after 9/11 an entire industry was created around “security.” I also know that money, not security, is the greatest political motivator. Call me a cynic, but I think this electronics travel ban has something to do with something other than a security threat. As I said before, where there is a will, there is a way. Regardless of the threat level, this electronics travel ban will not and cannot prevent an attack.
When and if Europe is included in the electronics travel ban, you can expect longer wait times at every facet of the travel experience. You will also begin to see the enormous economic impact as fewer people will be flying or avoiding routes with travel bans. To illustrate this fact, I have several international trips coming up and I am purposefully avoiding the Middle East even though their airlines are far superior and the routes more convenient. I am a professional traveler, so these bans affect me a whole lot more than the average tourist, but regardless, I see this continued erosion of our liberties as a slippery slope.
What are your thoughts on this electronics travel ban? I would love to hear what you think, please leave a comment below.