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 …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Checked in luggage

    I have never understood the requirement to have it in checked in luggage. If it can explode in the cabin it can explode in the hold. Timer or remote detonator, boom, same result. If it gets passed hand luggage it gets passed checked in luggage.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Checked in luggage

      Perhaps if it is checked in as hold luggage it goes to the non puplic areas where it can be looked at in more detail to determine whether it's a phone or a bomb.

      1. Mage Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: non-public?

        The carry-on is x-rayed, I've seen video screen, and I can easily tell what would not be authentic (as I've repaired all kinds of laptops / tablets / gadgets). If there is any doubt at all on video screen, they examine it, question you and do extra search.

        This is "security theatre".

        1. regregular

          Re: non-public?

          I once asked a german airport security guy who swiped my notebook for explosives residue what the fuzz was about. I brought up exactly your point, namely that the scan of the device should reveal anything out of the ordinary, so why bother with a swipe?

          His reply was that those carry on scanners do not show the composition of the material they scan. Only the specific density. And that certain explosives have a specific density that bang-on similar to those of the insides of battery cells.

          For that reason they single out notebook batteries that look odd for additional screening (mine was a Lenovo x220t extended battery that sticks out on the back of the machine), aside from that the scanner every now and then notifies them to swipe a particular notebook. No idea if that's a random function or image analysis driven.

          Can anyone confirm that thing about the scanning for density or that the battery contents are similar in specific density to explosives?

          1. gnasher729 Silver badge

            Re: non-public?

            "Can anyone confirm that thing about the scanning for density or that the battery contents are similar in specific density to explosives?"

            You can sometimes have a look at what the person at the scanner sees. Yes, it is a picture showing the density of the material. I think they want to scan your laptop separately for two reasons: One, it hides other stuff in your luggage - they might not be able to see the bomb behind your laptop. Two, they can ask you to turn your laptop on. Laptops with battery replaced with explosives don't work anymore.

            And yes, you can have explosives designed to have the same specific density as laptop batteries.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: non-public?

          The carry-on is x-rayed, I've seen video screen, and I can easily tell what would not be authentic

          I don't believe you'd be able to tell the deadly from the mundane with any reliability, and I've even less confidence that the minimum wage luggage screeners would, when they've spent hour after hour looking at the same x-rays of hold baggage.

          In context, the amusing thing here is the assumption that terror threats would only ever be put on board in these destinations. Certainly these countries are unstable, and some have history on this, but announcing a ban? WTF?

        3. Brent Longborough

          Re: non-public?

          Agree completely, except for one thing: better alternatives for "security theatre" are "security circus" or "security masturbation".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Checked in luggage

      Good point. And are we talking bomb bomb, or just a laptop with a dodgy battery that is merely an explosive Li-ion battery?

      And what about trains? Can we ride on them without further subjection to wildly inappropriate security theater measures? Fucking muggles. Fear of the unknown and the unsubstantiated. Stay in your hovels and watch your clever fear-based news, muggles! Nothing to see in the outside world.

      1. Mike Richards Silver badge

        Re: Checked in luggage

        'nd what about trains? Can we ride on them without further subjection to wildly inappropriate security theater measures? '

        Don't laugh, New Labour proposed security theatre at railway stations more than once.

      2. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Checked in luggage

        Lots of police presence at train station today (a city, but nowhere near London) but zero police presence at minor stations and other places en route (even though the same big lots of passenger filled intercity 125 go through those minor stations, non stop at 60 MPH and due to track curvature / bridges / tunnels many spots where an obstacle could be placed on track under a bridge / in tunnel so hard to see until closer than stopping distance.

        I'm sure after a few days security theater will peter out.

        Really need to research & get a T printed with risk of death due to terrorism in UK vs risk due to cars (inc pollution effects of cars) so I can open jacket to reveal it at next security theatre situation.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Checked in luggage

      My guess is the hold can be strengthened against an explosion, the cabin not so much, so there is less chance of a hole in the plane. It's a straw, but one I think can be drunk through.

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: Checked in luggage

        'My guess is the hold can be strengthened against an explosion, the cabin not so much'

        Not the hold as such but I believe they've been looking at strengthening the luggage containers that go in there. I'm not sure if they've got anywhere with that though.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Checked in luggage

          737A319 sized planes don't use luggage containers. The bags are loaded up a conveyor belt and stowed manually.

          You have to get to A320 sized planes to get a fuselage large enough to contain containers. Even these are often fabric sided simply to save weight.

          Full size containers with Alloy sides are for 777/A330 and above sized aircraft

          EasyJet from memory only use smaller aircraft so anyone using them are stuffed.

          BA uses A321's on AMM and 777's etc on the other routes to the gulf

          RJ uses 787's, A330's and A340's on their long haul. RJ111 to London is normally a 787.

          I have worked at QAIA (Amman) so this is where I got my info from.

          1. anothercynic Silver badge

            Re: Checked in luggage

            Incorrect. The A320 and B737 family of planes *can* use luggage containers and in fact use them a lot! Just because some airlines don't (like low-cost airlines) doesn't mean the planes can't use LD1/2/3 containers. Most full-service carriers in Europe use LD containers for baggage (it's more efficient).

      2. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: Checked in luggage

        Please. Who are you kidding? You clearly do not work in aviation.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Checked in luggage

        > My guess is the hold can be strengthened against an explosion,

        Your guess is wildly wrong and unsound from an engineering point of view, since we are in the business of carrying specifically non-explosive cargo (some of which self-loads, and is then called "passengers"). The hold does have fire detection and suppression systems but that doesn't always work as well as it should and is designed to deal with conflagrations anyway.

        I cannot see a plausible operational reason for this move (and neither can the DGSE nor the BND, btw), it looks purely designed to further inconvenience people travelling from certain destinations to the US.

      4. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: Checked in luggage

        "My guess is the hold can be strengthened against an explosion"

        My guess is someone felt an urgent urge to kiss Trump's arse. So don't expect Germany to copy this (video of Merkel looking at Trump was priceless - a picture speaking a thousand words).

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Checked in luggage

      "past", not "passed" for crying out loud. WTF is it with commenttards literacy these days?

      1. Bandikoto

        Re: Checked in luggage

        Eye bloom Autocorrect.

    5. PNGuinn
      Boffin

      Re: Checked in luggage

      "You're only supposed to blow the bloody hold off!"

      Of course a plane in that state will always be fully air worthy, Yes siree!

      As usual there's something we're not being told. I suggest either

      a. Usual security theatre by idiots who wouldn't know a real threat if they fell over it and set it off in the process (of course it's possible to set a threat off, prollytitions do it all the time, don't be stupid.)

      b. Think of something nasty other than spontaneous violent combustion that these larger toys could possibly be made capable of. Did anyone tell us that the threat was that the devices in question might EXPLODE?

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Checked in luggage

      If it's in the hold it's in a suitcase, probably amongst other suitcases, possible in a cargo container.

      I suspect that'd be able to contain the explosion and give the people on the plane a better chance.

      Also, the checked baggage disappears from the owner's sight, so unless they can track the device they won't even know if it made it onto the plane.

      Basically, they're just trying to make things a bit harder and force a change of plan for some bombers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Checked in luggage

        "If it's in the hold it's in a suitcase, probably amongst other suitcases, possible in a cargo container.

        I suspect that'd be able to contain the explosion and give the people on the plane a better chance."

        Maybe. However, more than one plane has gone down due to a fire in the cargo hold. You don't need a boom, and a pile of suitcases is a dandy source of fuel.

    7. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. regregular

        Re: Checked in luggage

        It is not that much colder in the cargo holds.

        All current pax airliners have at least one cargo hold that is fully temp controlled, like the cabin. This is used for pet transport, on some models the heated area also contains flight electronics that need be kept crispy.

        The other holds on any particular model are usually passively heated by blowing warm cabin exhaust air through or other means. Those will cool down to the single digits (Celsius) but never freeze. It may be 15 degrees below cabin temp, but compared to the outside temperature in the high negative double digits that is a moderate temperature difference.

        Also, as I have seen it mentioned: all cargo holds are pressurized like the cabin.

        1. kevinonh

          Re: Checked in luggage

          RE: "I have seen it mentioned: all cargo holds are pressurized like the cabin."

          Yes, but if your goal is to terrorize people, depressurizing a cargo hold (or starting a fire there) isn't nearly as spectacular as depressurizing a cabin full of people.

          1. Down not across Silver badge

            Re: Checked in luggage

            Yes, but if your goal is to terrorize people, depressurizing a cargo hold (or starting a fire there) isn't nearly as spectacular as depressurizing a cabin full of people.

            Explosive decompression of the cargo hold is unlikely to stay limited to the cargo hold.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Checked in luggage

        " I doubt it matters to a bomber if they're 500 feet off the deck or 30,000."

        It does matter as the aircraft won't be pressurised at low altitude. This is why the idiot with the laptop bomb in Somalia only managed to kill himself. He detonated it at too low an altitude.

        Regarding putting things in the hold, there are technologies being developed to contain explosions. There are bomb resilient containers and a team of academics have developed a hold lining material that can contain explosions. Not in use yet though.

        https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/nr/bomb-proof-fly-bag-1.483527

    8. iRadiate

      Re: Checked in luggage

      Simple. Have you seen how checked in luggage is handled once it's out of sight? It's thrown about all over the place by the ground. If there's a bomb in there then it will explode enroute to the plane while on the ground and not in the plane itself.

      We all think it's because the ground crews are pricks but really it's an added security check.

    9. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: Checked in luggage

      *puzzled look* it's only just been announced, but you sound as if you've been scratching your head about it for years...

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Checked in luggage

        if the laptop is in your hold luggage then there is valid reason to open up your case and "examine" your laptop (by examine, I mean sell it on ebay).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Checked in luggage

        Because this isn't the first item that requires you to check it into the hold and can't be taken in the cabin.

    10. kevinonh

      Re: Checked in luggage

      Aircraft are designed to keep the hold away from critical systems: it takes a pretty big bomb in the hold to bring one down. In the cabin, you can kill people directly, you can punch a hole in the pressurized cabin, and you have the ability to control the placement of the device near critical systems.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Checked in luggage

        > Aircraft are designed to keep the hold away from critical systems

        The referenced comment is utter bullshit, in case anyone wants to know.

  2. Mage Silver badge
    Coat

    Security Theatre

    They claim so it's not "manually" operated.

    However a suitable timer is about £1 (maybe $1.50 or €1.50 a a quartz AA cell operated alarm clock has a mechanical pair of contacts closed once every 12 hours) or a barometric sensor about £15. Even someone clueless can buy two clocks and after breaking one apart in about a minute realise how simple this is.

    This is complete nonsense as is the rather arbitrary size.

    It's a gift to airport thieves and your gadget isn't usually covered by insurance if in the "check-in" baggage.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Security Theatre

      "They claim so it's not "manually" operated."

      That indicates that either they are incredibly stupid or they think the rest of us are. How many people 'manually operate their alarm to wake themselves up? They don't! They set the alarm for the required time and the device does the rest. IIRC the thinking about the Brighton bomb in 1984 was planted at least weeks before and the timer was set. As you say, this is just theatre, albeit at an absurdly low level of credibility.

      1. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge

        Re: Security Theatre

        Strange how everyone is thinking "Bomb" here. It may well be that some smartalec has worked out how to build an xray-transparent firearm, but the limitation of this is that it is quite bulky. So, the only way to hide such a device is to build it into a laptop.

        Hence the ban on things over a certain size that contain various sorts of electrickery and thus look on Xray to contain wires, batteries and so on. The specific danger here is from the terrorist having his plastic gun with him in the cabin; it doesn't matter if the thing is in the hold because he cannot get to it during the flight. It also doesn't matter if some twit is importing a highly impractical firearm into the country; it isn't as if the engineering expertise to build working firearms doesn't exist here.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: Security Theatre

          it is emerging that there is a credible threat of laptop batteries containing bombs. Xray scanners aren't necessarily picking up the new threats.

          why this means they cant be remotely/timer detonated is beyond me.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Security Theatre

            "it is emerging that there is a credible threat of laptop batteries containing bombs. Xray scanners aren't necessarily picking up the new threats."

            They won't be able to because they're made to have the same density as the battery cells. AND to get past the "turn it on" test, they don't replace ALL the cells with bombs, leaving at least a partially-working battery.

      2. Adrian Midgley 1

        2 week video timer

        As I recall. So not more than 2 weeks.

    2. iRadiate

      Re: Security Theatre

      Surely that means you need an assembled bomb in the hold. I would think an assembled bomb is more likely to be detected via x-rays etc than one that needs to be put together in the cabin.

      Hence luggage in the hold is likely to be safer as the detection rate is better.

      Dunno maybe I'm putting too much faith in airport security.

  3. The_Idiot

    Text search challenge...

    ... for government and corporate announcements.

    "The safety of the travelling public is our highest priority"

    I wonder what would happen if someone searched all available material for the phrase 'is our highest priority'? I'm willing to bet there'd be rather more than one 'thing' apparently 'highest' on the priority list.

    Sigh...

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Text search challenge...

      "our top priority will always be to maintain the safety of British nationals"

      I know what they're trying to say, but really they're just weasel words. If safety was their highest priority they'd ban all flights in, over and out of the country then they could guarantee that no-one would be killed or injured in or by a plane. Anyone who takes a boat to a foreign shore and flies from there only has themselves to blame if it goes wrong.

      If they were honest they'd say that safety is very important, and they will take all reasonable measures to maximise the safety of passengers while attempting to minimise the trouble and disruption they suffer. But they don't seem worried about disruption. And how many people will die on American roads while the ban is in place?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Text search challenge...

      "I'm willing to bet there'd be rather more than one 'thing' apparently 'highest' on the priority list."

      Torn between suggesting "tax income" and "votes" .....

      1. Julz

        Re: Text search challenge...

        The highest priority is always the next election.

  4. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Go

    Seems very restrictive...

    I think that even late-model iPhones are larger than the allowable limits mentioned. But I guess we will see the policy reversed when enough political contributors are forced onto long-haul flights with kids who have had their personal gaming systems stuffed in the checked baggage.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhHF7S_RdB0

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: Seems very restrictive...

      I have a pair of galaxy s2 phones. The kids use those on flights as they are small, use usd cards full of stuff to watch and can take oodles of .epubs full size gizmos arent needed.

      Problem is, the large powerbrick we share will probably be classed as a laptop by the security drone :(

    2. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

      Re: Seems very restrictive...

      "even late-model iPhones are larger than the allowable limits mentioned"

      I read somewhere that the Plus models are bigger than the limits, but the non-Plus ones. So if you have a plain 6/6S/7, you're OK.

      EDIT: comparing the limits in the article with the sizes published in the Unreliable Source, no, even the Plus ones aren't too big, just. (158 mm versus the cited 16 cm = 160 mm).

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mission / Function creep

    In every way.

    FUD spreading and we're just sat around taking it in the derrière without a whimper...

    The nutters have us all so wound up we seem to just invent pointless regulations for highly unlikely scenarios.

    **sigh**

  6. Alan Sharkey

    And this is assuming your electronics are still there when you arrive. Which to me is a bigger concern.

    1. Winkypop Silver badge
      Alert

      ^^ This

      I'd rather leave my tech at home than trust it to the rough and tumble, and light-fingeredness of the baggage handling process.

  7. chivo243 Silver badge
    Meh

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

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: @chivo243

        What's new? Same as before brexit!

    2. Magani
      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).

  8. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    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.

    1. Andy Non

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Coming soon....

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

    2. Duffy Moon

      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).

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        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)?

  9. Ol'Peculier

    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!

    1. Alan Sharkey

      Re: Cameras

      Yes it does.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Cameras

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

        1. hplasm Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: Cameras

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

          (apologies for Trumpbush Frankenaccent)

          1. gnasher729 Silver badge

            Re: Cameras

            "(apologies for Trumpbush Frankenaccent)"

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

    2. James R Grinter

      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.

  10. stucs201

    Obligatory XKCD

    https://xkcd.com/651/

  11. tfewster Silver badge
    Facepalm

    When the ban .... ends?

    You're new here, aren't you?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Prison transport

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

  13. grizewald
    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?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Since SMS, Twitter, and L33tspeek became end vogue.

  14. Brent Longborough
    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!

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      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.

    2. gnasher729 Silver badge

      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!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    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!

    1. David Hicklin

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

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

  16. Milton Silver badge

    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.

    1. Tom 64
      Windows

      Re: Idiocy - but hardly a surprise

      > "politicians learn any lessons."

      Thanks for the chuckle there buddy.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      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.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        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

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          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.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      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.

  18. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
    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.

  19. John Savard Silver badge

    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.

    1. nijam

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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!)

  20. AJames

    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".

  21. Black Rat
    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.

  22. Richard 12 Silver badge

    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?

    1. MrXavia

      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!

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      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.

  23. David Roberts Silver badge
    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.

  24. Tom Paine Silver badge

    "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

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

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

  26. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    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.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      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.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      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.

  28. Far out man
    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.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    title

    read this

    https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmpubacc/336/9030910.htm

    the equipment only scans stuff outside the airport building

  30. Surreal
    Facepalm

    I feel so much safer!

    As any fule no, The Terrorists are still at least 10 years away from obtaining Connecting Flight Technology to bypass this spectacular new safety measure.

    Whew!

  31. dubious
    Holmes

    2 flight tiers

    Maybe they could introduce two tiers of flights and have them active on alternate flights. One for the fearful where you can only fly with your passport and boarding card, and another where you can fly with what we used to, such as a laptop and a bottle of pop.

    Let The Market Decide - that's the Republican way, right?

  32. tiggity Silver badge

    SAM

    And of course plenty of ways to bring down an aircraft from a distance, esp when they are nice & low (not long after takeoff, prepping for landing)

    Bound to cause lots of chaos on impact if dropping from the sky near a big city (lots of airports)

    There are always ways in which a plane can be taken down, even down to gambling on psychology and the old kidnap the family of the pilot and give him / her a you crash this planet at this point or they die scenario

    Ban all the things (as with fluids) just irritates people and puts them off flights, still eventually you will reach a point where the only people who CBA to fly are the would be terrorists so eventually they can just arrest anyone who flies.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    By that token

    Wouldn't the UK be better off banning cars anyway?

  34. SteveT

    So, since the new Note 8 is 162.5 mm it has to go into the hold? Darn that quarter of a centimetre!

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