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Apr 26

No, The US Is NOT Going To Extend The Electronics Ban To Europe

An article in The Guardian yesterday claimed that the US is considering banning laptops on flights from Europe, and possibly the UK, into the United States. For that matter, it would prohibit any electronics larger than a smart phone and would be similar to the one implemented a month ago on flights from certain mostly-Muslim countries (a policy that I don’t support). Fortunately, this policy will forever be relegated to the dustbin of “policies that were considered but never implemented.” Here’s why.

It Would Kill Business Traffic

laptop ban

On her next flight, she may not be carrying that bag. Photo Credit: Creative Commons

Let’s not forget that this is an administration that claims to be pro-business (although I struggle to think of one that ever described itself as “anti-business.”). Banning laptops on flights from Europe is about the most anti-business policy that one could imagine. It would instantly stop 90% of business traffic from the region. It’s not even a matter of a passenger being unable to be connected for a few hours. It would also force anyone who wanted to bring a laptop to check it, which most companies won’t allow their employees to do. European countries would likely retaliate, stopping the flow of traffic into Europe. Airlines would face an immediate and irreparable cash crunch. There would be bankruptcies. Travel related businesses, ranging from hotels to laptop manufacturers, would be hit. Millions of people in service or manufacturing-related jobs would be out of work. Etc. That is not the legacy that any administration wants to leave.

It Wouldn’t Work Anyway

Assuming you were a bad guy with an exploding laptop, the inability to enter directly from Europe would be only a minimal hindrance. Want to get into the US? A phone call to Air Canada would solve that problem.

So What’s The Alternative

I can promise you three things: First, I’m not a security expert. There may very well be a way to create an exploding iPad or laptop. I’m not in a position to say there is or isn’t. But no-laptop policy wouldn’t solve the problem. Second, I would not want to travel on an airplane without adequate security. That one goes without saying.

But third, and most important, is that life involves some level of risk. As I’ve said many times before, the most dangerous part of any trip is the car ride to and from the airport. Your chances of being killed in a terrorist attack are approximately the same as being struck by lightning multiple times in the same year.

Bottom line: We’ve seen a lot of crazy things done in the name of security, and it’s not limited to one political party. But a ban on laptops and tablets coming in from Europe would be a step too far.

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