back to article Now UK bans carry-on lappies, phones, slabs on flights from six nations amid bomb fears

The UK has banned airline passengers on direct inbound flights from six countries in the Middle East and North Africa from taking a range of electronic devices into the cabin due to fears of a terrorist attack. The decision, which mirrors a ban by the US Homeland Security from today and which was also based on intelligence …

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Meh

UK drinking US FUD flavored Kool-Aid? Not a good sign.

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Anonymous Coward

@chivo243

Come Brexit, the UK will become so beholden to the US, it will do anything they want. Up to and including, joining in their next war.

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Mushroom

Only partially finished the US's Kool-Aid

The UK managed to miss out/ignore/avoid the 2 main UAE airports and their associated airlines (Etihad & Emirates) that were on the USA's list, while totally ignoring Oman (Seeb/Muscat), Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, and their associated airlines. So, with the exception of Saudi Arabia, no Gulf States seem to be involved.

It's all very strange. Mrs Magani and I plan to visit The Old Dart in the near-ish future, but getting there in comfort (and without crossing Trumpville) is getting more of hassle. Maybe we should return to the milieu of the '50s and '60s and take a long cruise to Tilbury or Southampton (P&O First Class, of course).

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Black Helicopters

Re: @chivo243

What's new? Same as before brexit!

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Coming soon....

No one flies with anything. No hand baggage, no hold baggage and not even the clothes on your back.

At least you might get to the other end but who would want to eh?

So no one flies.

At least Greenpeace etc will be happy. But the economic hit would be huge so it won't happen.

I guess that no hold baggage and no hand baggage might be next. Countries like Spain, Greece and Cyprus would go bust overnight.

The Terrorists would have won without actually doing anything.

Brilliant Mr Bond, Brilliant.

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Re: Coming soon....

No one flies with anything. No hand baggage, no hold baggage and not even the clothes on your back.

You aren't getting on the plane that easily, you could still be carrying a bomb... so bend over while they snap on some gloves.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Coming soon....

What about those with bombs surgically implanted? Not even a strip search will find those.

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Re: Coming soon....

Perhaps it'll get to the stage that you have passenger-only aircraft and baggage-only aircraft. Of course, you might have a bit of a wait to collect from the carousel (plenty of time to 'enjoy' the wonderful airport shops).

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Re: Coming soon....

Again, a person with an implant bomb can fly buck naked (make the incision look like an appendectomy scar) and still go off on the plane. Or how about a SWALLOWED bomb that can then be regurgitated in the bathroom mid-flight (just say you're airsick)?

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Cameras

Does anybody know if this applies to DSLR's, because there is no way on earth my camera bag is going in the hold, I'd rather walk!

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Re: Cameras

Yes it does.

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Re: Cameras

Dont fly from those countries. Fly to a neutral country first for a stopover.

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Big Brother

Re: Cameras

Neutral countries? Y'urr either with us, or agin us! T'aint no neutral countries!!

(apologies for Trumpbush Frankenaccent)

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Re: Cameras

It's not being in the hold that you need to worry about, it's the journey there!

You see some horrific baggage handling out on the tarmac, sometimes.

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Re: Cameras

"(apologies for Trumpbush Frankenaccent)"

That's a totally unacceptable insult to Bush, Dr. Frankenstein, and his monster.

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Obligatory XKCD

https://xkcd.com/651/

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Facepalm

When the ban .... ends?

You're new here, aren't you?

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Anonymous Coward

Prison transport

It's not getting any better is it...

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Unhappy

I remember the good old days. You know, when you could actually expect the first few commenters to have some command of the English language...

Since when did spelling and grammar become optional?

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Since SMS, Twitter, and L33tspeek became end vogue.

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Holmes

Denial of Service Attack

A thought experiment.

Imagine you're an intelligent terrist (Yep, I think they exist) who wants to sow alarm and despondency in heathen lands.

So, you get some friends together and start chatting about a theoretical bomb-cum-laptop that doesn't actually exist. This gets the "intelligence" community all up-tight and nervous, and they put stupid restrictions like this in place.

Result: everyone gets pissed off, the intelligence community loses credibility, and the community in general lose more freedoms.

Mission accomplished!

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Re: Denial of Service Attack

Why not substantiate the threat with one or two actual bombs like in the Somalia attack. Then they can't just blow off the threat and always have to wonder what's next.

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Re: Denial of Service Attack

"So, you get some friends together and start chatting about a theoretical bomb-cum-laptop that doesn't actually exist. This gets the "intelligence" community all up-tight and nervous, and they put stupid restrictions like this in place."

I'll start spreading rumours that you can use a hairpiece to hide bombs. No air travel from Trump anymore!

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Anonymous Coward

(Travel) Insurance fraud on the rise...

But I packed my (imaginary) high-spec laptop and my 400 gixapixle DSLR in my checked in baggage.

GONE!

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Re: (Travel) Insurance fraud on the rise...

But check your insurance carefully - putting things like laptops into the hold might not be covered...

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Idiocy - but hardly a surprise

For this panic to make even the slightest sense - and it's slight indeed - there must have been chatter about explosive hidden in a tablet or laptop. The electronic capabilities of portable devices simply don't vary enough for this to be about hacking or interference with avionics. Even the terminally stupid TSA know this. So it's about a supposed physical threat.

The devices going checked therefore has two rationales: first, opportunities for deeper scanning; second, many luggage containers are now reinforced to cope (to some extent) with small explosions: a pound or so of C4 detonating in the hold will no longer necessarily cause a cascading aerodynamically-assisted airframe breakup as was the case with PanAm 103. But a suicide bomber could choose to move to a part of the cabin most likely to be vulnerable to an explosion before pulling the plug (and there are plenty of those if you've studied the design of your particular plane).

That said, the threat need not be credible for this ban to last for many pointless years. Consider the ridiculous "two phase liquid bomb" plot which was no more than a wild idea by a bunch of idiots who didn't even have plane tickets or passports: a hysterically overblown security reaction to which means I still can't take liquids onto a plane ... unless of course it's two litres of inflammable spirits just purchased at Duty Free. Common sense is trumped by "security" play-acting and the usual childish politics.

The curse of all this ill-considered flailing is that real threats will get overlooked. So far we have relied upon the low-tech incompetence and poor opsec of terrorists for their failure. But show me a single determined, disciplined, smart one with A-level or better knowledge of electronics and chemistry and the ability to figure out export bureaucracy, and if he wants to blow a plane up - he'll do it. And he won't even need a ticket.

The reliance upon glamorous, flashy nebulous sigint at the expense of good old slogging humint is going to kill a lot of people before politicians learn any lessons.

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Windows

Re: Idiocy - but hardly a surprise

> "politicians learn any lessons."

Thanks for the chuckle there buddy.

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Re: Idiocy - but hardly a surprise

"But show me a single determined, disciplined, smart one with A-level or better knowledge of electronics and chemistry and the ability to figure out export bureaucracy, and if he wants to blow a plane up - he'll do it. And he won't even need a ticket."

Oh really? Explain how without resorting to a ticket, security clearance, OR connections.

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Re: Idiocy - but hardly a surprise

Oh really? Explain how without resorting to a ticket, security clearance, OR connections.

Think of this a con and not some kind of terrorist act. You're biggest challenge is going to be getting a minimum wage job with the ground staff and sticking around long enough to do the reconnaissance.

For maximum effect a bomb has to go off while the plane is in the air but not only is the hardest to engineer, we've already seen that the chaos and terror which are the terrorist's aims can be achieved far more easily: just blow something up or start shooting in a crowd or getting a wheel or tyre to fail. Or just making a call to say you've planted a bomb.

Proper explosives would be a challenge but there are plenty of simple ones, which when combined with other agents which could be quickly made up on the spot: think of what you could do with some weedkiller, sugar and overpriced water bought in one of the many shops in the departure lounges. If you are a chemist and can get access to a well-stocked lab, then, well, the sky's the limit.

If you think this is outlandish then you obviously haven't looked at how the IRA operated because they specialised in clever ops using low-tech bombs, though they also weren't averse to using explosives used by the building or mining industry if they were available.

This. for me at least, is proof that the current threat level is completely overblown

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Re: Idiocy - but hardly a surprise

"For maximum effect a bomb has to go off while the plane is in the air but not only is the hardest to engineer, we've already seen that the chaos and terror which are the terrorist's aims can be achieved far more easily: just blow something up or start shooting in a crowd or getting a wheel or tyre to fail. Or just making a call to say you've planted a bomb."

But eventually the cry wolf thing gets stale and you gotta back it up somehow. I'm surprised they haven't plied their brains into demonstrating a means of blowing up a plane that CANNOT be prevented without blocking all airflight altogether. If you can pull it off for real JUST ONCE, you can put all general airflight on pins and needles because now you can literally down ANY airplane, ANY time, ANY where with no practical recourse. Now THAT would be what I call terror: because it would actually be backed up.

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Anonymous Coward

Next:

Passengers shall not be permitted to consume spicy or strongly flavoured food 24 hours prior to flying... American Chili is exempt as it is weak-sauce.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Next:

On an internal flight in India some years ago I was not allowed to take some chilli pickles (in bottles) in the cabin. These had to be packed in and carried in the hold. On the flight back to Europe I took them with me.

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Re: Next:

"American Chili is exempt as it is weak-sauce."

Don't be so sure about that. Many places like to play dares on spiciness and routinely use Scotch Bonnets, Habaneros, and worse in their foods. Buffalo Wild Wings' spiciest wings use Ghost Peppers after a test showed them to be very popular. And remember the current world record for hottest chili pepper is an American cultivar: the Carolina Reaper.

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Coat

You could still take...

a raspberry pi, a roll-up USB keyboard and any USB fingers you need for storage. Some seats already have a USB power socket, if only the screen had an HDMI socket, you'd be all set. No battery = no big block of energy storage.

Actually, when security sees your bundle of bare electronics and wires, and you explain, "I'm going to assemble my device in the air", the rules go out the window and you're getting the Special service.

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How Confusing

Apparently, then, the ban by the United States is not, for once, based on Donald Trump's evident bigotry, but is genuinely due to real intelligence concerning terrorist intentions.

Although this is surprising, I don't think that we should now be convinced that Donald Trump's critics are all wrong, and he is a wonderful President.

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Re: How Confusing

> ...but is genuinely due to real intelligence concerning terrorist intentions.

One report I've seen suggested the opposite, i.e. that the ban is motivated by US-based carriers losing out to some of the middle-eastern airlines, who seem to be preferred by many customers for long-haul flights.

Not sure if this was any more supported by evidence than is the claimed 'security threat', though.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How Confusing

> the middle-eastern airlines, who seem to be preferred by many customers for long-haul flights.

I certainly do fly Middle (and Far) Eastern airlines in preference if I get the chance, and when flying East, which is most of the time, if I need to go through a stopover airport, I make sure that it is one in the Middle East (big fan of Doha's old terminal!)

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Not in checked bags either

The rules are different in every country, but when I checked in online for my flight in Canada today, I was admonished not to put electronics like laptops with large lithium-ion batteries in my checked baggage because they are a potential fire hazard in the unattended cargo hold. So now if they're going to start banning these items in carry-on baggage and in checked bags, I guess they're going to suggest that they should be carried on the outside of the aircraft in a new hanging cargo sling? Or not at all? Anyone who must fly to or from the United States already knows that you can't put any items of value in your checked baggage because if the crooked TSA employees don't steal them, they'll pull apart your careful packing and dump everything back in scrambled together with a nice little tag saying "courtesy of the TSA".

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Devil

The unprobed limits

In M.R.D. Foot's history of the Special Operations Executive there's a mention about plastic explosive being edible, now bend over and cough while I check for a detonator.

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So now large, fragile batteries must go in the hold

Where several of the tens of thousands of innocent batteries will get crushed, start a fire and bring the airliner down.

Either they think the security at these airports can find prevent bombs getting onto planes, or they don't.

This ban greatly increases the overall risk of a plane falling out of the sky.

I won't be flying to these places because I don't want to be in a plane where the hold is filled with Li-Ion batteries.

Lithium batteries aren't permitted in airfreight. What kind of idiot forces them to be?

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Re: So now large, fragile batteries must go in the hold

When I travel out of Shanghai airport, my bag is screened as I am checking in, the run it through a scanner at the back and IF they see something suspicious they call you over to unlock your bag, if everything is Ok then nothing happens...

Brilliant system, I've been stopped because a small handheld camera tripod looked like a cluster of 3 batteries, and another time because I left a single small li-ion camera battery in the case!

No batteries are allowed in the hold!

So to me this ban make no sense!

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Re: So now large, fragile batteries must go in the hold

There's a difference between a box full of Lithium batteries and a hold full of suitcases with devices with Lithium batteries. They're in all kinds of cases that are designed to protect them and even if one were to catch fire it's not going to find a lot of oxygen to burn.

I've often travelled with one or two computers in the suitcase because I didn't need them while travelling.

But I think this announcement is mainly misdirection, see my post below.

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Trollface

Joining up the imaginary dots

US announces that they will require all your passwords if you land in the US, even if just a transit stop.

Bookings to US fall and surge for alternative transport hubs.

Well, shucks, we just discovered a threat if you fly via the Middle East.

New focus for all the "I'd rather walk" commentards.

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"Miracle invention" somehow not rolled out worldwide yet. Odd, that.

http://uk.businessinsider.com/new-material-absorbs-shock-from-bomb-detonated-within-airplane-2015-7?r=US&IR=T

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Anonymous Coward

Does anyone know if this ban will apply to First Class as well? Or just to my staff travelling in Economy?

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Not to be taken at face value

The ban is so easy to circumvent that it shouldn't be taken, er, literally. Apart from sending a mixed message to the travelling public — inconvenience but security — it may well have been designed to let one or more groups know that "we're onto them" and they should drop their current plans. Think of it as the inverse of a bomb warning.

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Re: Not to be taken at face value

So doubly stupid.

The same "we're on to you" message would have been far more effective by saying "We're on to you".

Instead they chose to make flights demonstrably more dangerous in the name of fake security.

When even air security consultancies are asking WTF, you know the Government have lost their minds.

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Anonymous Coward

X-ray chat

As a cop, I was trained as a Rapiscan operator for the Commonwealth games in Glasgow.

Trying to identify an explosive device is incredibly difficult - it's based on organic or inorganic material. So everything is pretty much the same colour and density on the scan until you come to organic material such as an orange.

All explosive material is organic.

What you're then looking for, is the combination of inorganic leading in to organic. So for example, a dense inorganic signature (say a small square which could be batteries) with an inorganic trail leading from it (such as headphone wires) leading to the organic material (your orange for your snack on the flight). That all looks like a bomb and I'd stop it and get it searched, unless I was really certain in which case we run like fuck.

There are also some materials which basically cause black shapes and have 100% density, which would be an automatic search, such as a lead plate.

It's really incredibly difficult to identify a bomb in a carry-on, and it's about who the owner of the bag is that makes the difference. We use Behavioural Detection training to add up the chance of that bag being packed with an explosive device, otherwise there would be a lot more bags getting searched just to make sure - but then people would miss flights, queues would build, complaints would rack up, etc, etc.

Putting it in the hold is no different from carrying it on to be honest, other than the fact that I believe that if it's a small bomb and it only ruptures the hold, there's a greater chance of the passengers surviving provided the pilot can plop it down reasonably well.

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Re: X-ray chat

"All explosive material is organic."

What about primary explosives? Last I heard they tend to use either lead azide or mercury fulminate. Both are inorganic. Sure they may be tricky stuff to handle, but so is PETN, and they HAVE used that.

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FAIL

Save us from those saving us

As usual not been thought thought through, it would be a simple act to fly from a "trusted" departure point if a terrorist wanted to get a device into the cabin.

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