New Electronics Ban on European Flights

You might have to pack your laptops if a new electronics ban comes into effect on European flights.

The Department of Homeland Security may announce a new electronics ban on flights to some European countries. In March, the agency banned these devices on flights from several Middle Eastern countries. You can read about that ban on the DHS website.

What We Know About the Electronics Ban

Like the previous ban, this one will also prohibit devices larger than a cell phone from airplane cabins. In addition to laptops, this ban includes tablets, gaming devices, and cameras. As of now, you can still pack these devices in checked luggage.

The government first chose to ban these items due to an incident on a Somalian flight in 2016. In February of that year, a man smuggled a laptop bomb onto a Daallo Airlines flight. Fortunately, the device killed only the terrorist when it blew a hole in the side of the plane. However, a better bomb might cause more damage, and authorities worry that terrorists will continue to try to bring them on board. This incident also revealed weaknesses in current explosives screenings practices at airport security checkpoints.

According to Reuters news service, the government is still trying to determine how to handle lithium ion batteries in luggage holds. These batteries can catch fire, which could be deadly in a plane’s cargo hold. Whereas a cabin fire might be extinguished, an undetected fire in the hold could be deadly.

Effects of the Electronics Ban

If this ban comes into effect, it will affect business travelers most. Many of these travelers must work on long distance flights. Storing computers and tablets will make this difficult.

But this ban will affect leisure travelers as well. With the dollar performing well against the Euro, many families plan on taking European vacations this summer. Since the ban could go into effect as soon as May 11, many parents may find themselves scrambling to entertain kids on these long flights.

In addition, electronics are often damaged when packed in checked luggage. In fact, airlines do not pay to replace stolen or damaged electronics. No one wants to risk their expensive devices every time they fly. And even the least “techy” traveler usually brings at least a camera with them on their travels.

What Should You Do?

Like millions of other Americans, I have a European trip planned this summer. Since I’m also a travel blogger, I carry my laptop and camera equipment with me on my flights. This is not negotiable for me, and the loss of these items would be financially catastrophic. Also, my young daughter is coming with me, and she is entertains herself with her iPad on long flights. I am not looking forward to flying with the iPad.

If your flights are booked, there is not much you can do. Bring your least expensive camera, and leave any electronics you can do without at home. You should also purchase travel insurance for these items. Check with your homeowner’s insurance carrier, too. Some insurers cover items lost or stolen outside the home. To help prevent thefts from your luggage, lock all your bags with TSA locks. Be sure to update passwords on all electronic devices, so thieves can’t unlock them. As a final precaution, you should also remove very sensitive information from any packed electronics, just in case it is stolen or lost.

For now, flights between Canada and Europe will not be affected by the ban. Book flights with a layover in Canada, if possible. Be aware that Canada may join the ban in the future, though.

As inconvenient as this ban might be, try to remember that it is for your protection. It is better to make it to your destination safely than to have your laptop in the cabin.

What are your thoughts about this possible ban? Tell us in the comments.



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