Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Feds may ban carryon luggage and even electronics from some flights; then what?


News reports suggest that the TSA may ban not only carryon backage but even electronics in plane cabins.  It unclear if this would apply only during Christmas season, or only to international flights. The reason is specific intelligence that Khorasan or a similar radical Islamist group may try to smuggle explosives into cabins that are difficult to detect.  A typical news story appeared in New York Magazine. Dec. 2, link.  The UK is also considering a similar ban, as may other European countries.  
The TSA says travelers should not pack electronics in checked baggage (link ).  Fodor does likewise, here   The biggest risk might be theft rather than damage, as well as lost luggage. 

I guess passenger pictures like mine above, of the airspace near Salt Lake City in May 2012, wouldn't be possible any more.  
  
It’s difficult to see how travelers could work around such a ban in a short time.  For long trips between big cities, it could be practical to ship electronics by UPS to stores close to the airports (which some people do now rather than letting airlines carry their luggage).    In long-distance moves, I’ve had little trouble with damage when computers were shipped. 
   
The travel industry could develop a business model to rent equipment at destinations.  This is possible overseas with cellphones, but would need to extend to many other items, like laptops, which could be equipped for the right electricity plugs and other hardware.  But securing the laptops would be a big deal.  A customer could be rented a “clean” factory-refresh and load his or her data from the cloud.  It could be offered by airlines or Priceline as part of a package, like car rentals.   But this is a long way from reality –  it would take a lot of programming code to set it up that doesn’t exist now.  And it would take “shark tank” business analysis from investors, who wouldn’t go for it unless it was going to be permanent security policy not to carry electronics at all.  Sorry, it won’t happen by Christmas 2014.  

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