back to article Confirmed: TSA bans gear bigger than phones from airplane cabins

People traveling by air to America from an undisclosed list of countries will no longer be allowed to carry devices larger than a mobile phone in carry-on baggage. Those traveling with such devices will be required to store them in checked baggage. The new travel rule was reportedly issued by the US Transportation Security …

  1. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Checked in baggage? What the hell.. has they seen the way the baggage people handle the baggage? Have they not had something stolen from the bags? At one point, everyone was adamant about "no valuables in checked in baggage".. and for a very good reason.

    What's next? Flying to or from one of those "undisclosed countries" will require you to be naked....? Which after a couple incidents involving shoes and underwear in the past, I wouldn't be surprised.

    1. 404 Silver badge

      Does Easyjet fly to the US? Noted in DailyMail (British National Enquirer cracks me up, Kardashians instead of alien babies) that they had an issue...

      'sides, doesn't matter to TSA - carry-on or checked in, they've managed to destroy two business laptops for me in their performance of security theatre. I've moved on to Toughbooks but haven't tried my luck recently.

    2. Blofeld's Cat
      Unhappy

      "Checked in baggage? What the hell ..."

      "As a child I grew up in a big house filled with exotic gifts from all round the world. - My father was a baggage handler at the airport."

      Milton Jones, Another case of Milton Jones

    3. Brenda McViking
      Black Helicopters

      Clearly one of the TSA employed monkeys at their typewriters eventually found the obligatory xkcd and reported the gaping security hole. SOMETHING MUST BE DONE!

    4. Charles 9 Silver badge

      What I'm more concerned about is that OTHER directive: "No Lithium batteries allowed in checked luggage" which is there due to the fire risk and therefore won't be going away. Since most of the devices in question have lithium-based batteries, how can they get them on the plane at all given they're now barred in BOTH locations?

      1. Jarndyce

        FAA Regulatinos on Li-Ion Batteries

        Not quite right, according to these documents:

        FAA: "Except for spare (uninstalled) lithium metal and lithium-ion batteries, all the batteries allowed in carry-on baggage are also allowed in checked baggage [...]"

        and:

        "Lithium ion batteries (a.k.a.: rechargeable lithium, lithium polymer, LIPO, secondary lithium). Passengers may carry all consumer-sized lithium ion batteries (up to 100 watt hours per battery)."

        [From: https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ash/ash_programs/hazmat/passenger_info/media/Airline_passengers_and_batteries.pdf; referenced by: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/prohibited-items]

        In short; devices with lithium ion battteries up to 100 W/h are allowed in checked baggage.

      2. CommodorePet

        It's a complicated rule, but the lithium battery that is part of the product itself is OK. It's spare batteries that are not allowed at all. Spare batteries as carry on have their own set of restrictions as well.

        1. Unicornpiss Silver badge

          @CommodorePet

          --I like the name.

          I don't understand why a LiIon battery on a laptop would be okay, but the same battery loose in luggage (if you pressed the little tab to eject it from the laptop) is an issue.

    5. LDS Silver badge

      Probably TSA guys & friends need a source of cheap devices...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        So...

        If you are not allowed your gadget onto the plane, what will the immigration droid clone, purloin, copy from?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So...

          If you are not allowed your gadget onto the plane, what will the immigration droid clone, purloin, copy from?

          It will be done during luggage handling (by someone who has most likely the original TSA keys rather than 3D printed ones off the Internet) where you cannot see that they will add data to your laptop, so a later arrest for possession of CP will be more of a surprise to you than to the arresting officers (in case of entrapment) or they don't need to copy your date because you'll do that yourself (in the case of spyware, which is also MUCH quicker to do than copying the full data set).

          Bonus issue: this ban doesn't actually work. All it does is raise the profit for airlines because they will sell two tickets. One leaving for an airport in a country without a ban, and one to travel from there to the US.

        2. Alan_Peery

          Re: So...

          This will make it *easier* for devices to be copied at the border, as they will be out of the traveler's hands and thus more vulnerable.

    6. Sampler

      hilarious

      the same week I'm astonished I managed to board a plane (admittedly, an internal flight) without providing any identification what-so-ever (and, for the first time in a long time not being "randomly selected" for bomb screening, trimming the beard seems to be working) this happens.

      I mean, it shouldn't be as easy as walking up to a machine, punching my name in and it spitting a ticket out (as was the case) before sauntering through security (who's metal detector should be checked as neither my belt nor watch triggered it...I shouldn't fly so early).

      But really, devices no larger than a phone? What rubbish..

      1. gv

        Metal detectors

        "... who's metal detector should be checked as neither my belt nor watch triggered it."

        It should probably be renamed the random ping machine. I'm pretty sure it doesn't "detect" anything.

        1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

          Re: Metal detectors

          "the random ping machine."

          Defo, I don't look that friendly, I've been told, and when I fly, I try to minimise interruption, so I've made damned sure I'm not wearing enough metal to set off a metal detector, and everything that would goes in the tray,.... but,... 'BLEEP' 'Step this way sir!' and I get the pat down and the wand. The wand that does not bleep, oddly. They use the metal detector to select people they want to pat down, I guess it seems less antagonistic if the machine is seen to pick people instead of the staff.

          1. Norman Nescio

            Re: Metal detectors

            If I remember correctly, the metal detectors are set to 'ping' randomly for a proportion of people passing through the portal who would otherwise not trigger the device. This is because random security checks, not based on profiling or a 'hinky sense' are effective*. The proportion of people selected for this further check can be set differently at different airports, or indeed, different gates.

            *It is relatively easy for someone who wishes to get something through a metal detector to test this with their own detector so that they can reliably not trigger the ones used to screen the public, or the employees of facilities requiring security. However, no matter how good you are at avoiding detection, you can't avoid random selection that isn't based on how good the metal detection technology is. So while random selection won't catch everyone, it means that no matter what you do to evade detection, there is a chance you will be caught by the subsequent random search.

            1. cocknee

              Re: Metal detectors

              The detectors do detect metal, if you watch when someone walks through it often lights up but not to a critical point and doesn't beep. My belt doesn't set it off as have walked through a couple times. However once had a t-shirt with 3 very small metal buttons, always set them off, guessing it was the type of metal used. Never wore it when flying!

              Coins can too (UK ones at least). Even when i had a wad of notes in my pocket, not a random check.

              But advice to travellers, don't be an idiot put it in the tray!! Nothing more annoying waiting to get through security when morons need patting down and we all have to wait for that to happen! Usually their bloody phones!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: hilarious

        Watches never set the metal detectors off. Belts can.

      3. Knewbie

        On a side note...

        Whenever I (used to) travel to the US and ended up with the infamous "SSSS" tag on my boarding pass (Specialy Selected for Security Search) I used it to cut the loooong waiting lines and directly presented myself at the head of the queue...

        And the TSA always felt obligated to search me and my belongings on the spot...

        Not a "LifeHacker" level tip but it saved me quite a lot of waiting time ;)

    7. cocknee

      TSA approved locks? Bollocks to that! Always lock with bloody secure padlock, don't want those TSA monkeys searching my bags without me watching.

      1. Mr Commenty McComentface

        Re: TSA approved locks

        " TSA approved locks? Bollocks to that! Always lock with bloody secure padlock, don't want those TSA monkeys searching my bags without me watching."

        Then you will end up with a lot of cut padlocks. They do just put a bolt cutter through them, and seemingly delight in targeting those without TSA approved padlocks. My (albeit wimpy) solution was to whack a fluro-coloured cable tie (with a slight notch cut into it) through the zip alongside the TSA approved padlock to at least give me a chance of knowing whether they'd been tip toe'ing through my luggage. I never trusted that silly little indicator button on the padlock.

        If they want in, they will get in and there's smeg all you can do about it. Only thing to be done is simply not play their game by not going there in the first place.

        1. Sampler

          Re: TSA approved locks

          Suitcase padlocks are pointless, if you don't believe me, do the following test, go get your suitcase, apply the padlock, then take a cheap biro pen, take the cap off, force it through the zip, then pull it aside to open the zip.

          Rummage through the suitcase then run the locked zippers across the opened section, et voila, looks like it was never opened.

  2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Obviously a real bummer for the Theives Support Association

    Who will have less opportunities to "inspect" you luggage.

    1. Alan_Peery

      Re: Obviously a real bummer for the Theives Support Association

      I think you've got it backwards -- this makes it *much* easier for thieves.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. 404 Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: I'm sorry for my country.

      Don't whine or apologize - it's the government, not the people.

      All I heard during Obama's administration was crying and in hysterics over FEMA camps, martial law, Obama this, Obama that, from conservatives for eight damn years. The world didn't end and the country didn't fail. Trump is an ass, so what? I'm curious as to what job he's going to do overall and should have the same chance Obama did. Trump fucks up, he gets replaced. Done.

      Enough with all the hysterics, still have a mortgage and bills to pay.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm sorry for my country.

        It is the people.

        Their elected government is a reflection of the people, make no mistake.

        I would also add "as in Brexit", as the thread is missing this one ;)

        1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

          Re: I'm sorry for my country.

          When the results of an Election are announced, you get the Government you deserve - not the one you want.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'm sorry for my country.

          "Their elected government is a reflection of the people, make no mistake."

          WRONG, The elected government in the US is a reflection of the two dominant parties, who limit us to a choice between Jerk A and Jerk B. That's no choice at all, and what is the electorate supposed to do with that?

          Come on, smartass. Tell us all how we were supposed to put a decent person in the White House when both choices are horrible? Do you imagine we can coordinate a write-in campaign that would out-vote the party-voters? Stage an impromptu revolution? What?

          1. streaky Silver badge

            Re: I'm sorry for my country.

            Tell us all how we were supposed to put a decent person in the White House when both choices are horrible?

            Devil's advocate: by understanding that one's reputation is caused by the other and might not, actually, be factual.

            The fact that there's people still saying they're both as bad as each other is exactly how you get yourselves into this mess.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: I'm sorry for my country.

            "That's no choice at all, and what is the electorate supposed to do with that?"

            Vote for Jerk C or Jerk D? Some may claim it's a wasted a vote, but it's better than not voting at all when you hate Jerks A and B :-)

      2. Thomas_Kent
        Big Brother

        Re: I'm sorry for my country.

        The problem with replacing trump is that we'll be stuck with pence, who his hell-bent (snicker) on creating a theocracy!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'm sorry for my country.

          The problem with replacing trump is that we'll be stuck with pence, who his hell-bent (snicker) on creating a theocracy!

          Yes, but as soon as you have him impeached too, the Republicans may be shown up for the seething bunch of liars they are and someone with some decency may be in place for a bit to clean up the mess they made (those few days of Trump will already take a generation to fix). The moment anyone votes partisan instead of with their conscience they ought to be removed, but unfortunately it appears you'd have a half empty senate by then.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I'm sorry for my country.

            " the Republicans may be shown up for the seething bunch of liars they are"

            What, you believe the Democrats aren't a seething bunch of liars as well? I assure you they are. It's the major problem here, small groups of ideologues controlling who we get to vote for. Real people are ignored.

        2. LDS Silver badge

          "The problem with replacing trump"

          It looks he thinks he will be replaced by his daughter - his family is a little too much involved in State affairs, like any Middle East country, or any country ending in -stan....- and you wonder if he's been just a puppet since the beginning.

        3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: I'm sorry for my country.

          "The problem with replacing trump is that we'll be stuck with pence, who his hell-bent (snicker) on creating a theocracy!"

          Just watch and see if he "comes out" as Nehemia Scudder!

    2. streaky Silver badge

      Re: I'm sorry for my country.

      I doubt this is trump, even he isn't *this* stupid. There's no obvious or non-obvious security or safety reason for it. Somebody at TSA thinks they're smarter than they actually are wild guess.

      After decades of the US not really giving a shit about aviation security or safety one incident leads to huge overkill response rather than sensible measures. Nothing you can do with a laptop you can't do with a phone. Plus nobody involved has clearly every tried to actually open an iPad it's fairly clear. Not easy.

      Wanna see the sharp glass I can get from a smashed phone screen? You're welcome, air travellers!

      1. P. Lee

        Re: I'm sorry for my country.

        >I doubt this is trump, even he isn't *this* stupid.

        Stupid?

        Ah, I see you'll be needing a touchscreen tablet with separate keyboard! Do I have an offer for you!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm sorry for my country.

        Wanna see the sharp glass I can get from a smashed phone screen? You're welcome, air travellers!

        You can keep your phone and I raise you the broken neck of a cheap bottle of alcohol. Available in volume, and can be freely taken onboard, no questions asked. Even the bottle itself is a good club. That's why I laugh at plastic cutlery - I'm far more worried by people with duty free alcohol.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    impressive co-ordination

    I am ginger / irish, travel on a UK passport (Dad is English) but all the actions by America seem to be very coordinated to stop people coming there. I doubt this rule affects me but still, i am left with the 'idea' it affects me so another reason to avoid travel to the US. Maybe, when no-one come there anymore, the TSA will be over staffed and some of them will be sacked....

  5. Infernoz Bronze badge
    FAIL

    Complete f'ing idiots compounding their Security Theatre fails

    Business people or anyone who wants to use other devices to make the journey productive/bearable and/or don't want valuable/high-security devices potentially at risk of damage, misplacement or theft *, in luggage, should shun the USA! * This could cause a complete wasted trip and later disruption for business people if misplaced luggage contained critical electronic data for the trip, whereas clothing/consumables may be far less critical!

    The dangerously strong, ionizing radiation, people scanners are already enough for me to blacklist the USA as a travel destination!

    1. Diogenes Silver badge

      Re: Complete f'ing idiots compounding their Security Theatre fails

      Great boost for the Canadian/Mexican economies, fly into the closest city, hire a car & bingo bango bongo most of security theatre avoided,

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Complete f'ing idiots compounding their Security Theatre fails

        Great boost for the Canadian/Mexican economies, fly into the closest city, hire a car & bingo bango bongo most of security theatre avoided,

        Canada usually adopts all security measures introduced in the US after a short delay. Furthermore, many flights to/from Canada (and often flights between two Canadian airports) overfly the US and are subject to many of the same restrictions and rules (including the US no-fly lists, for example) as the flights originating or terminating in the US.

        For better or for worse, Canadian sovereignty is largely a fig leaf these days: what the big brother to the south (and the north-west, obviously) wants, the big brother gets.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Complete f'ing idiots compounding their Security Theatre fails

          "Canada usually adopts all security measures introduced in the US after a short delay. Furthermore, many flights to/from Canada (and often flights between two Canadian airports) overfly the US and are subject to many of the same restrictions and rules (including the US no-fly lists, for example) as the flights originating or terminating in the US."

          Oh great. Thanks mate! Wife and I were considering a holiday to Canada next year and my wife was wondering if there was a way to get there without going via US airspace. And now you tell me this? Looks like we won't be going there either if it's bad as a trip to the US.

          Oh well, the other option is the Virgin Islands (not the US one!!!!)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Complete f'ing idiots compounding their Security Theatre fails

        you obviously did not read the article.

        RJ (Royal Jordanian) has said that this move applies to their flight to Montreal as well as JFK, Chicago and Detroit.

        The last time I looked, Montreal was in Canada.

        It is a shame that the US has decided to do this. They really don't have a clue.

        I predict more people from Amman will leave on RJ111 to London and change planes there.

        I used to work at QAIA and all the people there are really nice and friendly.

        1. Simon Harris Silver badge

          Re: Complete f'ing idiots compounding their Security Theatre fails

          Their Montreal route requires a connection in the US.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Diogenes, re: boarder crossings.

        Driving across the boarder is not as easy as you think. Look up "No Constitution Zone" to find out why.

    2. mics39
      Facepalm

      Re: Complete f'ing idiots compounding their Security Theatre fails

      Bet they'll soon set up special waiver programme for US passported business and first class travellers, of course for extra fee.

      And on related note the airlines have all announced all inflight entertainment on affected flights will no longer be free.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Facepalm

        "soon set up special waiver programme for US passported.. first class travellers,"

        A company did this handling, taking care of all the pre booking process, took particulars of addresses, preferred CC numbers etc.

        Then a laptop with the whole datebase of high value, frequently absent individuals disappeared from a locked office in the air side (not public) part of an airport.

        Officials were baffled by the theft.

        Visiting America.

        What video conferencing was designed for.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And on related note

        And on related note the airlines have all announced all inflight entertainment on affected flights will no longer be free.

        Next: don't let passangers bring in food or drinks of any kind.

        1. Rafael #872397

          Re: Next: don't let passangers bring in food or drinks of any kind.

          Inflight dry, inedible 'snack' manufactured from asbestos during the Reagan administration, sir? That will be $87.94. Exact change please.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Complete f'ing idiots compounding their Security Theatre fails

      I wonder if that applies to the 'noblemen' flying first class too, or only to the 'serfs' flying economy.... sometimes I have a feeling the world is turning backwards...

    4. MondoMan

      Re: Complete f'ing idiots compounding their Security Theatre fails

      @inf

      They got rid of the last ionizing radiation people scanners in US airports a few years ago.

  6. Pomgolian
    FAIL

    Meh

    Shooting themselves in the foot. How do they expect to search your gizmos at the border if they dissuade you from taking them on a plane in the first place.....oh.....wait....maybe they're hoping to upgrade baggage handlers to spooks who clone your devices while rummaging through your underwear.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Neoc

      Re: Meh

      Downvoted you - while custom checks on the way OUT of a country occur after you've checked-in your luggage, the checks on the way IN occur after you've collected said luggage.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Meh

        the checks on the way IN occur after you've collected said luggage.

        Yea, right! Just keep believing that and remember to take your medicine.

        1. Pomgolian

          Re: Meh

          Just because *you're* not paranoid, it does not mean *they* are not out to get you.

        2. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Meh

          I already have, and he's right. The gate BEFORE the Luggage Claim is the Passport Control counter, where you show your "Papers, Please!"

          The gate AFTER the Luggage Claim is Customs, where you're required to declare your belongings. Customs MUST wait until you regain ALL your belongings: including the checked baggage.

          1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

            Re: Meh

            You can get through customs without your bags - just move them to another convenor belt and tell the airline that they haven't shown up, walk through customs and the airline will deliver the bags to you when they find them, usually about 1 day later.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Meh

              One, SOP for lost bags is to search them in case they're contraband or assembled-on-the-spot bombs.

              Two, since the luggage has an ID on it, they can tie it to the passenger and Customs can gets notified. Meaning they can also present a bill.

              Three, there's no guarantee you'll even get the lost baggage.

              1. e^iπ+1=0

                Re: Meh

                "One, SOP for lost bags is to search them in case they're contraband or assembled-on-the-spot bombs."

                A couple of years ago we managed to pick up the wrong bag after a long haul flight. We had about 6 hours in a nearby hotel, somewhat puzzled about being unable to open one of the cases, but not that bothered.

                Back at the airport in the morning for our next flight we were told that we had someone elses bag, and also our bag had been found - apparently the only thing in our bag which had attracted Custom's attention was 2 cans of beer.

                1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                  Re: Meh

                  So, I was right, #1 and #2 applied to you. They DID search the case AND Customs did a check on it, identifying your bag in the process.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Meh

          Yea, right! Just keep believing that and remember to take your medicine.

          I just love the down votes, just shows the septics done understand sarcasm<G>

      2. Brenda McViking
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Meh

        Have you ever watched one of those "border control" programmes? they usually scan everything prior to putting it on the final baggage carousel, half the time it's how they know how to collar you when you try and exit through the "nothing to declare" lane - because that's the point at which you commit the offense, not before.

  7. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    I'm sorry, that item is larger than a matchbox

    Therefore it may contain (gun/explosive/fusion device/time machine/unsupported theocratic messages) and you may not carry it on board this aircraft because you are departing from (specific list of states), and it has nothing to do with the colour of your skin or your religion.

    /*sigh*/

    Didn't even make it to friday before they shot themselves in another foot.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm sorry, that item is larger than a matchbox

      LMAO re. time machine.

      Seriously, who puts something like that in their luggage?

      As every "Doctor" knows, these things are usually way larger and you probably shouldn't

      be carrying one around working or otherwise without the reality distortion field turned on, or at least some psychic paper to convince the TSA that it is in fact harmless and besides time travel is above their pay grade.

      Got in enough trouble sending a mobile emitter through the post, the argument "But its 29th century technology, has no lithium battery or anything dangerous and the reason it has no USB or charge port is that it is self powered and syncs via wireless connection" didn't fly and neither did my post for several weeks.

  8. GrapeBunch Silver badge

    a TSA spokesperson referred The Register to the Department of Homeland Security. DHS spokesperson David Lapan did not acknowledge the new rules when asked about them. "We have no comment on potential security precautions, but will provide an update when appropriate," he said in an email. We'll update this article as soon as we have more information.

    I would like to assure observers at TSA, DHS, and El Reg that I will update this comment as soon as ... oops. That wasn't ten minutes! It was never ten minutes.

    If USA wants to punish eight or eighty countries, how about this: only women from those countries may travel to USA. Men are banned. And on February 29th, reverse that. Security Theatre of the Absurd.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      I like the bit about "no comment" on the list of banned items from certain source countries, as if it''s some sort secret! Yeah, we might have banned certain items but we can't tell you which ones or which departure airports are affected.

  9. redpawn Silver badge

    Safer Baggage

    The presence of more valuables in the baggage reduces the chance that your baggage will be targeted. A win for all unless the batteries catch fire and down the plane that is.

    Time to bring back steam ships and horses. Horses seldom complain about the contents of baggage as long as they are not too heavy.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: Safer Baggage

      The presence of more valuables in the baggage reduces the chance that your baggage will be targeted.

      Nah, it just means there will be more people willing to work for a low wage - even Americans. After all, they can backfill their salary now, even if luggage is not VISIBLY inspected without your presence, it is still handled by someone between the plan and the conveyer belt.

      A win for all unless the batteries catch fire and down the plane that is.

      So you expect sales of Dell laptops to rise in those countries? :)

    2. Smooth Newt
      Meh

      Re: Safer Baggage

      Time to bring back steam ships and horses. Horses seldom complain about the contents of baggage as long as they are not too heavy.

      I don't think that would stop the TSA since a large and powerful organisation's main priority is to continue to exist. Please open up all your luggage and step into the full body scanner, this is just routine, you could be a terrorist armed with poisoned sugar cubes for the horse.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Safer Baggage

        I wonder how long that will last when people with appendectomy scars start trolling, "I have an implant bomb!" Since even a full-body x-ray's going to have a hard time finding an explosive INSIDE a body. And let's not start with dildo bombs (no joke; someone actually DID that one).

  10. danya02

    Smaller-than-phone devices exempted?

    How about if I were to use a small device, like a Raspberry Pi? It's about the size of a phone, and smaller than some. How about also taking a display and sub-miniature keyboard and a power bank and claiming that those are all phones?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Smaller-than-phone devices exempted?

      Probably unstated in the article is that people claiming more than two cell phones are likely to be flagged as suspicious.

      1. danya02

        Re: Smaller-than-phone devices exempted?

        >people claiming more than two cell phones are likely to be flagged as suspicious.

        How about people traveling as a group? What if each person were to have one component of the system, take theirs through security (claiming it to be a phone, obviously) and assemble and use the system while inside the aircraft, then, some 5 minutes before arrival, it were to be dismantled and each component taken by the person who had it initially?

    2. regregular

      Re: Smaller-than-phone devices exempted?

      And what about bigger devices (physically) that actually have less capabilities and smaller batteries? Bluetooh headphones come to mind, one small PCB and something like 1/3 of the mAh of a modern phone.

      There is going to be a lot of debate on TSA chechpoints when this directive goes live. And an awesome bin of discarded devices...

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Smaller-than-phone devices exempted?

        Didn't one of those CATCH FIRE about a week ago?

  11. regregular

    Looks like the easiest way to get into the US for tourist or business reasons with your reasonable assortment of gear (phone, notebook, camera + spare batteries, maybe e-cig, maybe BT headphones?) might be going to Mexico and renting a car. Or buying a ladder.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nah, if you start from Mexico you have to drive thousands of kilometers to get to the right end of the country. Much easier to pick the appropriate part of Canada.

  12. simmondp

    Batteries?

    Surely this is counter to the safetly instruction that Li-On batteries mus be carried in hand luggage AND NOT stowed in the hold??

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Batteries?

      As I noted, I think the directive is meant to ban their transportatiobn, full stop. If you can't check them and you can't stow them, you simply can't take them with you.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Batteries?

      http://www.iata.org/whatwedo/cargo/dgr/Documents/LithiumBattery_PassengerFlyer.jpg

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    devices no larger than a phone..

    fsck TSA!!! I can carry then my Gameboy Micro!! :-P

  14. Steve 114

    Disappointing

    Reg. commenters disappoint by grumbling like schoolboys rather than speculating on what new attack vector has been detected, and why from those airlines only, and why phones which can be triggers are still permitted.

    1. Mnot Paranoid

      Re: Disappointing

      I would strongly suggest this is because even a rather dim-witted schoolboy knows it's clearly not a possible new attack vector, just some more inconvenience trolling from those at the top of that particular game.

      1. John Sturdy
        FAIL

        Re: Disappointing

        I think it's probably more to do with separating passengers from their laptops, for convenience in raiding the laptops (planting keyloggers, like the first stage of an "Evil maid" attack, perhaps?).

        Or perhaps they really do think it's better for people to put electronic devices in the hold. Remember Lockerbie? Well, it didn't happen over US territory, so I perhaps they dismiss that as irrelevant.

      2. e^iπ+1=0

        Re: Disappointing

        "just some more inconvenience trolling from those at the top of that particular game"

        First they came for 10 middle eastern airport's​ passengers travelling to the USA, then they came for those travelling to the other 5 eyes countries from there.

        After this, it just became natural to apply this everywhere. Winston Smith was not surprised when his flight back to Airstrip One was encompassed by these new guidelines. He felt accepted.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Disappointing

      what new attack vector has been detected, and why from those airlines only,

      Because we know that no matter what it is, you're still 1000x more likely to die in a car crash on the way to the airport. If you're that worried about some vague new wavey-handy threat you should probably just stay in bed.

  15. Emperor Zarg
    WTF?

    The list of airlines

    Saudi Arabian, Royal Jordanian and I'm sure I read somewhere Qatar Airlines and Emirates Airline are on the list too.

    I bet there is no US airline on it. They all use the same airports. What is this? Thinly veiled protectionism?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The list of airlines

      The RJ flights to the USA codeshare with American Airlines so as far as the average American PAX is concerned they are flying on an American carrier. Their ticket says American and has a flight number starting AA.

    2. Emperor Zarg

      Re: The list of airlines

      And by way of follow-up, now that the full list of airports and airlines is available I have done some quick research and noticed that no US carrier flies to any of the airports on that list (meaning the operating carrier, not codeshares). Therefore no US airline is directly affected. Coincidence?

      This appears to be an easy way of discouraging the use of non-US airlines when travelling to the USA from the Middle East.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: The list of airlines

        Yeah, piss of some of the best Boeing customers.... guess Airbus is preparing the champagne.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Running out of stock for Baggage Battles on TV?

    Or are the baggage handlers bored of just smashing up luggage and want to move on to smashing your expensive electronics.

    What a clown car nation.

  17. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Meh

    I don't understand..

    EVERYTHING gets scanned. Your suitcase may be searched more thoroughly at the TSA's leisure, but your carry on luggage is always opened up and anything electronic scrutinized right in front of you where you have to answer for it. A lot of modern devices including most 'ultrabook' laptops have non-removable batteries. Now they're going to fly in the cargo hold where if something happens it may not be apparent until there's a catastrophe? Unless all luggage is going on a separate cargo plane, what exactly is this accomplishing?

    Do they think someone is going to launch a cyber attack against the plane's avionics? If so, how could this not be accomplished every bit as easy from a modded cell phone?

  18. Charles 9 Silver badge

    And before anyone says it's a hoax, recall the Daallo attack. That WAS a laptop bomb.

    1. Emperor Zarg

      Laptops are still going to be on the aircraft, just in the hold instead of the cabin - well, assuming their owner doesn't care about keeping the laptop that is. If someone has made a laptop bomb having it in the hold doesn't make it much less of a threat.

      In the Daallo incident the laptop had been through security and reportedly used a timer device. The laptop could just as easily have been in the hold. Furthermore, that incident happened at Mogadishu, an airport which is conspicuously absent from the list.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Laptops, especially ultrabooks, CAN'T go in the hold because they have Lithium-Ion batteries in them (make them a spontaneous fire risk).

        I'm still waiting for an incident to occur that involves a bomb that's practically impossible to detect (like the one with the bomb literally up his butt--he just forgot to take it out first).

  19. Dan 55 Silver badge

    MS must be happy

    They can start by marketing continuum in those undisclosed countries as well as the US.

    (Why are they undisclosed? When everyone flying between the US and one of those countries is told to repack their luggage with their laptop in it, it'll make the news.)

  20. IsJustabloke
    Holmes

    I wouldn't be surprised to find...

    that the list of Airlines affected by this "security measure" closely resembles the list of airlines that fly out of countries that Trump has been trying to get banned from flying....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I wouldn't be surprised to find...

      That is definitely the case because this includes Dubai.

      Dubai is an off-shore TSA site which performs all identity, passport and customs checks for US flight on-site. You land as a local flight in the USA. It has better screening facilities than a lot of USA and Eu airports too.

  21. Equitas

    And for those of us who travel without checked bags?

    Not all of us take checked baggage. So if we're not flying on the "correct" airlines we can't even carry a Kindle? But then is a Kindle voyage of greater volume than some mobile phones?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And for those of us who travel without checked bags?

      You walk.

      Or fly via London/Paris/Frankfurt/Amsterdam

      That shows how stupid this rule is.

      The DHS seems to be P*****g into the wind on this.

  22. dbayly

    You're all missing the point

    So the Trump administration leaks a possible new security protocol and what happens? It dominates the news and deflects attention from other newsworthy issues, such as Trumps FBI director and his NSA head dissing him in a public, televised forum. And revealing he may have had links to Russia during his campaign and that he was lying wrt being wiretapped by Obama. And his candidate for the supremes is in front of the Senate committee just now.

    I commend the description of the "goat and the cow" in https://extranewsfeed.com/when-villains-arent-super-f5646d81db6#.zdmm06qtq

  23. Bob Camp

    Well, (theoretically) it's about time

    It's pretty trivial to rig a battery so that the thermal runaway reaction occurs on demand. We have all kinds of devices that do this (hoverboards, Samsung Note 7) that do this DESPITE the safeguards in place to prevent that from happening. Disable the safeguards and you have a bomb without the explosive residue that are typical of other bombs. To that end, I'd ban cell phones with removable batteries too, as some of these phablets (like the Note 7) have relatively large batteries. Or I'd at least visually inspect all cell phones to see if they've been tampered with.

    As far as the argument that everything is scanned, it is done so poorly that they may as well not scan at all. The TSA's positive detection rate is a pitiful 5%.

    Business travelers are going to complain, and rightly so. If you're paranoid about somebody hacking into your laptop, take out the hard drive and carry it with you. If you're worried about damage or theft, don't bring it and put the data/presentation on a USB stick. Or ship a notebook PC to your destination ahead of time. Also, I'm sure the company you're traveling to has a competent IT department and can loan you a notebook PC when you arrive (our IT department does this quite a bit).

    Don't get me wrong, this whole thing is still silly because it's easy to circumvent. You can rig your PC to explode in the cargo hold when it receives a signal from your cell phone. Or put it on a timer. You can book two separate flights (but that might raise a red flag). And I don't think the risk of an intentional explosion is greater than the risk of an unintentional explosion.

    But I thought that it was silly to ban all liquids when rechargeable batteries were the bigger theoretical threat. I thought they'd start letting liquids back onto planes, but this idiotic administration went the OTHER way (no surprise).

  24. JamJar

    Im really confused here, there is NO security advantage or any other advantage to this whats so ever. The fact that its only certain countries, whats that about. Err connecting flights, what happens there, I guess its ok to get your laptop out re-pack it in your hand luggage and be on your way again.

  25. Glen Turner 666

    Let's see what other countries do

    I suppose the test will be what the UK and France do, as they have access to substantially the same facts.

    Banning large batteries from the cabin isn't the worst idea. It's basically a decision that they'd like to deal with explosions of 150g to 1000g of explosive in the hold rather than in the cabin. The list of airports seems approximately where a substitution of battery for explosive could be expected which also have flights to the USA.

    I also wonder if the agencies are concerned about an explosive laptop being used as a tool in a larger scheme, such as breaching the flight deck door.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "It's basically a decision that they'd like to deal with explosions [...] in the hold"

      And how is this better? Even less controllable by the crew, and lots of flammable materials around. It can also damage control lines and other stuff inside the luggage deck, i.e. oxygen tanks, etc.

      Breaking the cabin door without downing the plane also (especially if you blow up the cabin as well), would require specific explosives, and having gained control of the passenger deck.

    2. Bob Camp

      Re: Let's see what other countries do

      The U.K. has implemented the same ban.

  26. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    I actually had to reach over and turn off BBC WS this morning...

    BBC WS had some airhead "expert" explaining about Lithium-Ion battery safety in the context of this news.

    As if that's an issue that affects only these Mideast and North Africa airports, and as if putting the smoldering laptop in the cargo hold is an improvement.

    Dear Expert on BBC. You're an idiot.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seem to recall

    Last time I went to Italy aged eight (?!) having to take the batteries out of my cassette player because of some similar issue.

    This was back in the 1980's but the really idiotic thing is that thanks to this people are going to hand over their external hard disks etc when asked like the sheeple (tm) they are.

    (rant)

    I sometimes wonder, if death by a thousand cuts (aka TSA and their ilk) is actually any better than the miniscule chance of some eejit's illegally imported "Death Note(tm) or IKillYouPhone (tm) going "Full Chernobyl" in the hold.

    You are literally more likely to get hit by a truck crossing the road to get to the damn airport, by about a factor of 10000 than being involved in a terrorist attack, For that matter more people have choked to death on a peanut.

    (/rant)

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