back to article US laptops-on-planes ban may extend to flights from ALL nations

United States Homeland Security Secretary Gen. John Kelly says he's considering a ban on laptops in airline cabins from flights that leave all nations, not just Europe and the Middle East as is currently the case. On Fox News Sunday Kelly chatted with host Chris Wallace and, at the 9:10 mark of the video below, was asked if he …

  1. Nate Amsden Silver badge

    secure storage

    Like many folks the only reason i take my laptop in the cabin is security. I don't put anything electronic of value in checked luggage. I have never ever taken my laptop out during flight(also never used airline wifi). I listen to music or watch video on my phablet(384gb of storage between my 2 phablets). Or on international business with the full reclining seats usually the in flight entertainment has a bunch of stuff that i can watch.

    If the airlines had a thing where you could give them the laptop and they would stow it securely say in one of those cart things on a tray (at least for business and first class that is all i fly anyway). Give me a ticket or something to retrieve the laptop at the end that would be fine for me anyway.

    Short of that i suppose if i travel internationally after this ban I will have to ship my laptop fedex or something to the destination, as i do not trust the baggage handlers for that $3500 device and more so the inconvenience of having to replace it on a trip.

    Taking a 3 week trip to thailand soon and probably be forced to go to amsterdam in late july for a week or so for work.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: secure storage

      I agree. Who uses a laptop on a plane these days anyway? Too clunky. Tablets and phablets everywhere from what I've been seeing. If they would promise secure passage, I'd be fine with handing it over.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: secure storage

        Tablets and phablets everywhere from what I've been seeing.

        I hope you haven't missed the fact that all tablets, e-readers, and hand-held game consoles are also explicitly banned. The phablets may or may not be, depending on whether a particular TSA agent considers your phablet to be of a "normal" size for a phone. Under the strict interpretation of the UK version of the ban, my Moto-Z (which is a large, but not a huge phone) is banned unless I remove the battery mod and the bumper case and leave them at home. With the mod and the case, it is too long (151mm instead of the permissible 150) and too thick (15.5mm instead of the permissible 15mm). My wife's ancient Samsung T450 slider feature phone would appear to be banned from the Middle East to UK flights outright, despite being compact and having (or needing) no battery worth speaking of - it is 24mm thick, which is well above the limit.

        Talk about madness.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: secure storage

          As above; using a laptop on a plane is a good way to get the screen broken, but for sure it's not going in the hold as is.

          But it seems not beyond the beyond the bounds of possibility to have some sort of locker system, perhaps mounted into a standard hold carrier; I give them the laptop, they scan it, stick it in a spare slot, and give me the key to that slot (and perhaps a voucher for a replacement laptop :)

          The issue about hand luggage is annoying but obvious: if airlines want to charge for hold baggage, of *course* people will take things for free into the plane. The majority of 'hand baggage' isn't - it's there simply because it's cheaper and quicker to get out at the other end, if you don't have to wait for the carousel. Maybe there are options here to explore regarding what may be taken into the cabin.

        2. Mike Richards Silver badge

          Re: secure storage

          And cameras.

          So that's tourism buggered. The cave-dwelling nutters from the 13th Century must be hugging themselves with joy at what they've achieved - by not actually doing anything.

          1. Simon Harris Silver badge

            Re: secure storage

            "And cameras.

            So that's tourism buggered."

            Quite - I almost never travel with a laptop, but almost always with my camera, which is probably more fragile and more expensive than the average laptop or tablet. That always goes in hand-luggage - in that days when hold luggage was free, my camera was often my only hand luggage.

            Maybe I should go back to a completely manual film SLR with no electronics.

            1. LDS Silver badge

              "I should go back to a completely manual film SLR with no electronics."

              Do you believe the average TSA agent can tell the difference? He will also look suspiciously at your film canisters... but probably won't be able to open the camera to look inside <G>.

              1. Simon Harris Silver badge

                Re: "I should go back to a completely manual film SLR with no electronics."

                I might have suggested my Mamiya C33 TLR (1960s vintage), but that could be used as a weapon in it's own right... it's heavy enough to be used as a blunt instrument.

            2. Grifter

              Re: secure storage

              What you do with very expensive camera gear:

              http://lifehacker.com/5448014/pack-a-gun-to-protect-valuables-from-airline-theft-or-loss

      2. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: secure storage

        "I agree. Who uses a laptop on a plane these days anyway? Too clunky. Tablets and phablets everywhere from what I've been seeing. If they would promise secure passage, I'd be fine with handing it over."

        I use a laptop, and fly in economy. But then, I write large quantities of text on a daily basis, rather than watch films and read a report or two.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: secure storage

        I agree. Who uses a laptop on a plane these days anyway?

        The fat bastard next to me last week on a flight from Amsterdam to Edinburgh dd - expanding his already bulging presence over my fold down table as well as las and arm rests.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: secure storage

        I don't *use* my carry-on laptop, that's why you've not seen it. But there's *no fscking way* I will let my laptop go into check-in.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: secure storage

      America seems to be really caving in to terrorists at the moment - that, or it is trying to isolate itself from the rest of the world. I'm not sure which, although given how hard the US Government seems to be trying to make cloud services a non-starter for non-Americans, I'll probably go with they are trying to isolate themselves from the rest of the world.

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: secure storage

        It's just Security Theater ... the world is full of soft targets that nobody worries about until it's too late - this, like all TSA precautions, is all about the politicians not getting blamed.

    3. macaroo

      Re: secure storage

      If the laptop was packed with C4 explosives it would not matter where the device was located in the airplane.

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: secure storage

        Absolutely. I am writing this near Lockerbie ...

    4. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

      Re: secure storage

      While I agree with what you've said, keep in mind, you fedex your laptop, you will end up without the laptop for 3+ days and it too can be stolen or damaged. (Albeit there's a lower probability.)

      It will also mean an increase in sales for hard cased luggage containers. When I have to travel, my work kit weighs between 30 - 40lbs. while my roller ways 25-27lbs. Going international, I guess I could fit my ruck in the middle of the case and it should be ok.

      But the one thing you're missing... your tablet or phablet... is also banned, otherwise the sale price of the 12" iPad Pro would be going thru the roof.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmmm, well. Either it will become:

    1) A global ban everywhere, or

    2) Implemented by the US alone, or

    3) Quietly forgotten about and not implemented at all.

    If the USA does do this on its own then it's going to make going there very unpopular with businessmen.

    Also it's kinda crazy that they're not talking about banning hand luggage laptops on domestic flights. What protections do those enjoy that international departures don't? Some kind of magical amulet? Either there is a threat, or there isn't. If there is a threat worthy of taking action, a patchily or partially applied ban simply means that the ban is totally ineffective. Is the suggestion of not banning hand luggage laptops on domestic flights bending to the weight of public opinion? And if so, since when did politics overrule security measures? Ah yes, since sometime back in January I suspect.

    As it happens, we know that there has been a partially successful attack in Africa whereby a doctored laptop exploded, killing no-one but the attacker. Whether or not this translates into a threat that we must all pay heed to is another matter. Clearly the USA thinks it does, and evidently to some extent so does the UK. But it sounds like there's some difficulty persuading the rest of the world that there is a problem. That could be a bad thing...

    The whole laptops in hand-luggage vs hold luggage thing may have several origins. There's more opportunities to use more aggressive scanning techniques on hold luggage (stronger X-ray machines, etc), well away from actual people. So perhaps the reliability of detecting explosives there is higher. If it's simply a perception that a laptop bomb in the hold cannot be triggered by the passenger, that would explain it too. But that sounds nuts. Timers? Like they used to use?

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Also, the airlines state, that devices with Lithium batteries should never be checked and only taken as hand luggage, so if you are travelling to the US, you basically can't take anything more than a mobile phone (tablets are also currently covered in the ban from the arabic nations).

      I guess the (relatively) limited storage on a mobile phone is quicker and easier to go through / copy, compared to a hard drive... Once the laptop is checked in, they have more time to casually clone the drive, while it is out of your sight.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I guess the (relatively) limited storage on a mobile phone is quicker and easier to go through / copy, compared to a hard drive...

        I won't be too sure about that. My personal phone has about the same amount of storage as my work-issued laptop, and certainly more storage used by data (A fraction of my music collection, if you care. Unfortunately, there are no reasonably-priced micro-SD cards in the 512GB range, so I still can't carry the full thing). To compound things, I can clone my laptop's SSD through USB3 in under 15 minutes; however copying the same amount of files from my phone over that pretence at a usable data-transfer protocol called MTP would take at least 24 hours - despite the SD card being able to sustain 100+ MB/second for reads, and the transfer going over the nominally faster USB3.1.

        Modern mid-range phones have an amazing amount of storage and processing capacity - quite comparable to low- and mid-range laptops.

        1. DaddyHoggy

          What SD card do you use? Having looked at many, have never seen one that comes close to 100MB/s *SUSTAINED* read.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            SD card speed

            OK, I was exaggerating just a tiny bit about 100MB/sec :)

            My particular card is Sandisk SDSDQUAN-200G-G4A, which used to be expensive, but appears to be on the stock-clearance sale at the moment. It is not a fastest card around for sure - but according to http://uk.pcmag.com/sandisk-ultra-microsdxc-uhs-i-200gb-card/71266/review/sandisk-ultra-microsdxc-uhs-i-200gb-card it does sustain 86 MB/sec on sequential reads in CrystalDiskMark in a PC. According to the same article, at least in some phones its performance is limited by the phone, not by the card. In my Moto Z Play, it manages 63MB/sec for sequential reads ["Disk Speed / Performance Test" by Hipxel].

        2. DaLo
          Facepalm

          "...however copying the same amount of files from my phone over that pretence at a usable data-transfer protocol called MTP would take at least 24 hours - despite the SD card being able to sustain 100+ MB/second for reads..."

          If your data is on an SD card why would they try to get the data off over MTP?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            If your data is on an SD card why would they try to get the data off over MTP?

            With Android 6 and later, unless you need to swap your SD cards around, it is much more convenient to format the card as an internal storage. If your phone is encrypted (which is the default starting with 7, if I recall right), then so is the SD card formatted as internal. Removing the card and sticking it into an SD reader will not let you access the data - the keys remain within the TPE/SE if your phone supports it.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Also, the airlines state, that devices with Lithium batteries should never be checked and only taken as hand luggage"

        The first rule of panics is that the latest panic supersedes all previous panics.

        The second rule of panics is that the countermeasures of the latest panic override those of all previous panics.

        The consequence is headless chick syndrome.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          So, what do you do when you end up with two conflicting but simultaneous panics. Neither can supersede the other since they both come at once, and since they conflict, you can't observe or counter both of them at once since they directly conflict with each other: countering one feeds to the other and vice versa.

          1. DropBear Silver badge
            Facepalm

            "So, what do you do when you end up with two conflicting but simultaneous panics."

            What do you mean? That's the only kind of panic worth bothering with! Now you can pick and choose which contradicting measure you want to apply at your whim, insisting it's the more important one. It's the Swedish buffet of bureaucracy, there's a rule just waiting to be enforced for your every need!

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "So, what do you do when you end up with two conflicting but simultaneous panics."

            Strict serialisation applies.

          3. Eltonga
            Coat

            That's what quantum panic theory intends to answer.

      3. Simon Harris Silver badge

        "Also, the airlines state, that devices with Lithium batteries should never be checked and only taken as hand luggage"

        I thought that depended on whether it's installed in equipment or not. From:

        https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ash/ash_programs/hazmat/passenger_info/media/Airline_passengers_and_batteries.pdf

        Q2. What kinds of batteries does the FAA allow in checked baggage (including gate-checked bags)?

        A2. Except for spare (uninstalled) lithium metal and lithium-ion batteries, all the batteries allowed in carry-on baggage are also

        allowed in checked baggage. The batteries must be protected from damage and short circuit or installed in a device. Battery-powered

        devices—particularly those with moving parts or those that could heat up—must be protected from accidental activation. Spare

        lithium metal and lithium ion/polymer batteries are prohibited in checked baggage—this includes external battery packs. Electronic

        cigarettes and vaporizers are also prohibited in checked baggage. “Checked baggage” includes bags checked at the gate or planeside.

      4. MrXavia

        "the airlines state, that devices with Lithium batteries should never be checked"

        I know I don't want to be on an aircraft full of lithium batteires in the hold...

        The average case would probably have a laptop, a camera, some alcohol (who doesn't buy spirits abroard?)

        All you need is a short, you get a small fire, the alcohol is the perfect accelerant, causing a bigger fire, spreads to the other cases, causing a bigger fire....

        yep...

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Domestic flights

      Also it's kinda crazy that they're not talking about banning hand luggage laptops on domestic flights.

      Especially since those tend to carry a greater proportion of domestic[0] passengers, which is what the terrrists are said to be aiming for.

      [0] though not necessarily domesticated.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      "they're not talking about banning hand luggage laptops on domestic flights"

      Because of course the TSA is that extremely competent law enforcement force that no terrorist will ever try to challenge them <G>.

      Also, if you want to down a plane full of US people, the best way is to down a domestic flight - and if the technology to bypass checks exists, it can be obviously used for any flight, from any airport - if they are smaller, less equipped airports - the better.

      Anyway the reason people pack everything they can in their cabin luggage is that they not trust luggage handler at all - besides those who can't wait to get back their luggage, some airports are really slow.

      Yet. putting electronics in the hold they will go inside densely packed bags as well. If they're going to open each and every bag and inspect them (and I really would like to avoid a fat-fingered TSA employee mess with my photo gear...), they can do the same for cabin luggage - at least I can ensure everything is properly re-packed for the travel. I wouldn't like a case with several thousands of photo equipment opens while handled because it wasn't properly closed.

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: "they're not talking about banning hand luggage laptops on domestic flights"

        The only way to be certain would be to ban all Self Loading Freight from for flights.

    4. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      ... it's kinda crazy that they're not talking about banning hand luggage laptops on domestic flights

      Perhaps because they aren't allowed to tinker with computers (e.g. installing spy- or other malware) on domestic flights?

    5. ivorb
      FAIL

      Where will this end?

      You beat me to the point. Further, US security theatre tends to be just that - a theatre. On at least three occasions my wife has told me to stop nagging, sailed through US 'security' and had penknives, liquids, etc picked up at the European connecting airport (LHR, AMS, VIE-means nothing to me).

      Perhaps the current USA forgets that the original motivation for this charade was Sept 11, 2001 - when all the hijacked planes were US flagged carriers flying domestic routes.

      Oh and if you want to avoid half the screening, just buy a business class ticket. I doubt if the extra cost is going to deter a person with nasty intentions.

      And yes, on occasions when an upgrade has been available on the cheap ($100-$150), I've travelled business class and used the laptop for coding, report writing, and similar work. If travelling on my dime, it's saves having to take time off (vacation / holiday) and has been worth the money.

      And if you start banning laptops, where do you draw the line? A big tablet (e.g. iPad "pro" is of comparable size to a small laptop and could pack a fair punch if the battery was replaced with an explosive.

      I'll stop before I get tagged for 'questioning'.

      1. PaulR79

        Re: Where will this end?

        Ohhhh Viennaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

      2. Marketing Hack Silver badge

        Re: Where will this end?

        @ivorb

        But to be fair, the 9/11 attacks involved box cutters, not bombs. Nobody is going to smuggle a threatening blade inside an electronic device, but they might be able to get a hidden bomb in one.

        And as for not applying this ban to domestic flights A) your suicidal terrorist would have to get into the U.S. first, possibly with their bomb materials (though you can be a lone wolf domestic jihadi) and B) a large number of people on flights coming in from overseas are foreign, and they don't vote or call their Congressman.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Where will this end?

          Hmmm. It seems that all of the recent attacks, either with explosives or not have been perpetrated by what anyone would have called a "domestic terrorist". Seriously, the "not bothering domestic travelers" does not seems very sound.

        2. LDS Silver badge

          "would have to get into the U.S. first, possibly with their bomb materials"

          Because there's a lack of chemicals and explosives in the US? And it is also impossible to obtain them from criminals?

          Also, governments are obsessed with air travels - but any country which has sea ports offers great entry points to anybody who don't really need to travel fast, and smuggle illegal goods...

          Anyway till now many terrorist attacks were made by people born locally - and US too doesn't lack them.

      3. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: Where will this end?

        the problem is, NEVER.

        Once a gummint program gains a foothold, it will be justified into self-justification, then grow into a hideous eldritch abomination of a monster, then become a "legacy program", until people just accept it a "normal".

        If they REALLY wanted tp protect against terrorists, they'd PROFILE more, and inconvenience the REST of us a HELL of a lot less. But that's not "politically correct", now, is it?

    6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Also it's kinda crazy that they're not talking about banning hand luggage laptops on domestic flights. What protections do those enjoy that international departures don't?"

      The four 9/11 flights were all domestic flights. Make of that what you will.

      1. 2Nick3 Bronze badge

        "The four 9/11 flights were all domestic flights. Make of that what you will."

        But has there been a successful terrorist attack on a US domestic flight since then? I can't recall any (and searching for that involves terms I don't want to be associated to...). The debate is over causality - are the security procedures in place working, or is there another reason for the lack of incidents?

    7. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "As it happens, we know that there has been a partially successful attack in Africa whereby a doctored laptop exploded, killing no-one but the attacker."

      Said laptop was handed to the attacker AFTER he cleared security.

      It's all about theatre, not reality.

    8. Just An Engineer

      Hmmm, well. Either it will become:

      Actually not surprising at all.

      They only want to inconvenience "them Forinars". We cannot be inconveniencing the locals, you know the folks that pray at the alter of the Great Orange One. Of course because it kills the tourist trade, they also do not care since it will keep them "Forinars" out of "our" country. Yep Making Amerika Great Agin....

      But you also miss the real reason: It becomes a money making scheme for the airlines. T

      Use this as a way to rent device to the parents of fidgety kids o long and short haul flights. Those who really need to have something can rent the "approved" tablets to watch the airlines entertainment offerings. Win Win for the airlines.

      So the evil overlords get something out of it, and they do not care since they fly private anyways.

    9. HelpfulJohn

      A congressional committee was set up to discuss ways of eliminating mosquitoes. Half the critters wanted to kill all of the female mozzies, half wanted to kill all of the males.

      They compromised by deciding to kill 50% of each gender.

  3. Ole Juul Silver badge

    Work time

    I think many business travellers will not like this. For someone on a busy schedule, this is a good time to do a bit of work. Not being able to do that will add an hour or two to the time spend working, either before or after the flight.

    1. dan1980

      Re: Work time

      @Ole Juul

      "Not being able to do that will add an hour or two to the time spend working, either before or after the flight."

      And, as you have to send your laptop off with your checked baggage before you got through security screening, you won't be able to get that work done while waiting for your plane either!

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Work time

        If you are very lucky, your laptop might still be in your luggage at your destination, so you can do the work when you land...

        Better to not take a laptop at all and buy a disposable device at the other end. Maybe they are working with Google and Microsoft to get people to buy Chromebooks / Windows 10 S devices, once they land.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Work time

          "Better to not take a laptop at all and buy a disposable device at the other end. Maybe they are working with Google and Microsoft to get people to buy Chromebooks / Windows 10 S devices, once they land."

          And if you're landing going to a not-zone, meaning you MUST have a local copy?

          1. Eltonga

            Re: Work time

            Portable HDD?

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Work time

              One, no laptop to use it with (no assurance of acquiring one at the destination), and two, likely to be stolen, too.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "On Fox News..."

    True and right. Consider this a done deal. We're gonna build that wall.

    You should of pulled a wikipedia and put the "source" link in an overlooked location. Seriously, you just can't come right out of the gate with that.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trump: Making America shit & taking the World with it.

    I wonder how long it will be before he does something so fucking stupid that it angers one of his own Secret Service agents to snap & waste him?

    I wonder if that agent would get imprisoned as a traitor or granted Sainthood for doing the World a favor?

    *Cough*

    /S?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trump: Making America shit & taking the World with it.

      I wonder how soon the spooks visit your house for talking like that? And whoever was dumb enough to upvote you.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Trump: Making America shit & taking the World with it.

        "I wonder how soon the spooks visit your house for talking like that? "

        Was freedom of speech repealed by executive order recently?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Trump: Making America shit & taking the World with it.

          @John Brown - "Was freedom of speech repealed by executive order recently?"

          That's not freedom of speech. SCOTUS has been very clear on where the lines are drawn. Research it yourself if you are ignorant of the law - I don't have time for your juvenile attempt at trolling.

          1. SolidSquid

            Re: Trump: Making America shit & taking the World with it.

            Debatable. He might be giving his opinion on what would happen if Trump was shot, but that's not the same as encouraging someone to do it, which I believe is the line he'd have to cross to get a visit

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Trump: Making America shit & taking the World with it.

            ""SCOTUS has been very clear on where the lines are drawn."

            Correct. And the OPs comment was clearly on the "safe" side of the line. The was no incitement, planning or encouragement. Merely on opinion-like what-if.

    2. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: Trump: Making America shit & taking the World with it.

      I doubt the President of the USA would be shot by one of his own agents* but I think even as POTUS one might be wary of accidentally oversharing Mossad Intel...

      * oblig. CIA wetwork joke: How do we know the CIA wasn't behind the JFK assassination? Well, he's dead, isn't he?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Planes ban may extend to ALL nations"

    That's how I read that! US tourism PR heads are already warning about a lost decade! There's more than a hint of Trump's xenophobia in all of this, no? Seriously why even transit through the US, just go somewhere else...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC

      "Seriously why even transit through the US, just go somewhere else...".

      True, but for many people, including myself, that point has already been long reached. Nothing Trump did, the same applied during Obama, Clinton and Bush. I've refused a flight to the US a few times already for the simple reason that I will not allow myself to being treated as a potential criminal. The stuff they demand to know about you is mind blowing.

      "I got something to hide?", you got that right.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: "Planes ban may extend to ALL nations"

      "US tourism PR heads are already warning about a lost decade"

      It has the added advantage of reducing the likelihood over overbooking and therefore of being seriously assaulted by simply deigning to fly.

    3. 2Nick3 Bronze badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: "Planes ban may extend to ALL nations"

      "US tourism PR heads are already warning about a lost decade!"

      That would make shorter lines at Disney World, at least!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'But it is a real, sophisticated, threat.'

    * Like putting a bunch of tech equipment with lithium-ion batteries in the cargo hold...??? - I guess we'll be seeing more of this on Nat-Geo: Aircrash-Investigation / Mayday some day....

    * Plus, didn't you get the memo: terrorists win when basic freedoms like these are curbed!

    * Anyone had electronics robbed from luggage? This is going to be a new goldmine for low-life baggage handlers everywhere!

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: 'But it is a real, sophisticated, threat.'

      It's about putting spyware on laptops of selected targets.

      It's LESS safe.

      Or else they are just stupid.

  8. Michael Hoffmann
    Thumb Down

    Thought process?

    I just don't get the thought process here?

    What makes the laptop more dangerous in the cabin than in the checked-in luggage? If it's something about detection - well, then extend the detection mechanism to all scanners?

    What happens when the Li-Ion batteries bring down a plane? "Oh, now we can blame Samsung/Apple/HTC/vendor for killing hundreds of people but our hands our clean because we only care about terrorists and we Did Something About That, now please re-elect us"

    As for the inconvenience to business travellers who can't get work done: I don't think they care.

    Not the politicians - and not even the corporations who will just expect you to squeeze that work time out somewhere else ("get up earlier before your flight or don't sleep at all to get that presentation/program/document done").

    1. Bubba Von Braun

      Re: Thought process?

      "I just don't get the thought process here?"

      Thats because there isnt one here! Its a knee-jerk reaction to a threat to replace one for another far larger threat.

      Lets see 300 devices all with Li-ion batteries that have been subject to whatever handling or abuse ahead of flight all packed in to a couple of baggage containers thats a nice little disaster in the making, just look at South African Airlines flight 295 and that was a fire in a 747 Combi that the crew could access the cargo area.

      More likely its trying to cover up the blatant bias against Emirates, Etihad etc that the US carriers have been bitching about for years over their unfair subsides. More an excuse for a protectionist trade barrier if you ask me, expand it globaly so you can avoid any WTO actions.

      1. Scroticus Canis Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: South African Airlines flight 295

        The Helderberg was carrying solid rocket fuel brought from Taiwan by the SA Government's Armscorp. The crew had no chance of extinguishing that once it started to react (reason unknown). That sort of stuff is so unstable it should never be transported on a passenger carrying flight and has little to do with laptops and Li-ion batteries.

        The laptop bomb on the Air Somalia flight would have worked all too well if the terrorist had the smarts to wait until the plane was at cruising altitude. Reportedly the laptop had been x-ray examined during check-in.

        The current flap is presumably because the terrorists have found a better way to make the explosives and detonator inconspicuous on x-rays.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Thought process?

      Well, if all the laptops from the passengers on one flight are put together in one container in the cargo hold, it's easier to arrange for several terrorist's laptops to be in close proximity, thereby making it possible to combine several smaller charges into one large, much more efficient one.

      Or am I thinking this through from the wrong end here?

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Thought process?

        The problem is you're thinking this through. You're not supposed to.

    3. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Thought process?

      My understanding (likely incorrect) was that they used much more powerful X-ray scanners on checked bags, which is why you're told to put film in your carry-on. Checked bags also go through explosive detection machines, while carry-ons are just spot-checked. Most airports don't have room for any more machines.

  9. Charles 9 Silver badge

    I'm still waiting for one of them to realize that a bomb small enough to be concealed inside a working laptop battery is also small enough to be put in something like a dildo. Meaning they can conceal the bomb from practically any scanner simply by being kinky enough to conceal it INSIDE themselves.

    1. Bubba Von Braun

      Thats what the body scanners are there to detect/prevent. Also devices surgically concealed as well.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        No, they're meant to detect bombs ON a person. The human body I a a natural EM absorber, and IIRC the tech WAS in place when the a-hole bomber struck.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "The human body I a a natural EM absorber"

          It depends on what part of the spectrum you're thinking of - X-rays. It could become a a cancer hazard for frequent fliers.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            That's an unacceptable tradeoff, though. There are only three techs powerful enough to get through the meat and water of a human body, and they ALL have strings attached. One of them (high-energy EMR like x-rays) is unavoidably carcinogenic (strong enough to penetrate tissue is also strong enough to mutate tissue: part and parcel). That's why it's only really used in prisons. Another (ultrasound) suffers from a terribly short range: particularly through air. The last (EM fields rather than radiation) is too unwieldy, not to mention dangerous for people with legitimate metallic things in their bodies (joint replacements, bone pins, metal skull plates, pacemakers).

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            "It could become a a cancer hazard for frequent fliers."

            I suggest you acquaint yourself with radiation doses from Xrays vs radiation doses from being at 30,000 feet (hint, the latter is far higher than the former and contains high energy protons in addition to simple ionising radiation)

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: bomb in body

      "I'm still waiting for one of them to realize that a bomb small enough to be concealed inside a working laptop battery is also small enough to be put in something like a dildo. Meaning they can conceal the bomb from practically any scanner simply by being kinky enough to conceal it INSIDE themselves."

      Wait no longer! In fact, that's already been done in Saudi Arabia by al-Qaeda1) in 20092) in an attempt to kill Saudi Arabia's Deputy Minister of the Interior, Muhammad bin Nayef. The minister was only slightly wounded. The would-be assasin was killed in the attempt. So not really successful as such, but definitely past proof of concept stage.

      1), 2) Ah, the good old days, remember?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: bomb in body

        Suicide bombing by dildo. Ouch.

        1. Simon Harris Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: bomb in body

          "Suicide bombing by dildo. Ouch."

          Presumably a Pocket Rocket.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: bomb in body

        That failed because the bomb detonated while inside him (he was trying to get close while being inconspicuous). If it were hidden inside a dildo or something then it could be removed from the body mid-flight and they wouldn't have the dampening effect

  10. redpawn Silver badge

    I suspect malware

    This probably is not about terrorism. I suspect they will use the opportunity to alter the firmware of various components of the laptops in order to have a surer route into the computers than Windows 10 affords. If I were to travel to the US, (already in Trump hell) I would put stuff in the cloud or an SD card and get a "burner" laptop from Bustboy or the like. Better than being compromised. You're on your own. Good luck!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great!

    Instead of banning people taking laptops on board, there should be legislation to prevent ass-hats carrying multiple huge wheelybins into the cabin and clogging up the overhead lockers. That would make more sense.

    But then again, we don't seem to be living in the era of joined-up thinking.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Great!

      What airlines allow multiple suitcases in the overhead? Can't get past the ticket scanner loaded up like that in the US. Some kind of a Brit thing?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Great!

        Pretty much most - I've not seen a single ass-hat being told that their luggage is too big.

        I managed to catch three interconnecting Star Alliance flights on Wednesday and the last to BHX was oversubscribed. Instead of taking the oversized baggage off people, us with a single piece of luggage were asked to stow it under our seats so that the fucknuggets with Harrods in their bags could use the overhead bins. Really gets on my tits.

        On a positive note - I was asked to take my BT headphones off because they could possibly make the plane crash, so pulled out the wired cable and continued using them, safe in the knowledge that I'd go a little 2.4GHz wireless network running to my Sandisk SSD in my pocket....

  12. Mark 85 Silver badge
    Meh

    Ok.... color me confused....

    The TSA already plays with every laptop...err.. checks them at the gate. So are they saying that the TSA check at the gate isn't sufficient? I'm shocked. Shocked I tell you.

    Footnote: Maybe if the batteries go "boom" in the hold, then the terrorists can be blamed? I really can't fathom where these paranoid thoughts come from.

  13. Long John Baldrick

    Not a Chartered/Certifies Engineer or engineer but

    doesn't the placement of explosives make a difference to the results? I would think that an explosive device placed against the fuselage of the pressurised cabin would be more damaging than one placed in an unpressurised hold, most likely not against the fuselage.

    Now, fire away and tell me how I don't know anythiing about explosives, airplanes, cabin pressurisation, price of tea in China.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Not a Chartered/Certifies Engineer or engineer but

      So far every bomb that has ever brought down an aircraft was either inside the hold or attached to a missile.

      Just think upon the reasons why this might be.

    2. lglethal Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Not a Chartered/Certifies Engineer or engineer but

      Alright here you go - Aircraft are structurally redundant. That means you can have great big gaping holes in the side of your aircraft and the plane will be able to fly and land without any problem. The people in the vicinity of the hole could be in trouble, but the vast majority of the flight would be fine. But then that also applies to being in the vicinity of the bomb in the first place. For an example of a plane with a great bloody big hole in it that landed safely and with only one person (a Stewardess who wasnt sitting down) losing their life, look up Aloha Airlines Flight 243.

      Having the bomb in the hold is in fact far more dangerous for the simple reason that bombs tend to cause fires. A fire on an aircraft IS extremely dangerous. If its in the cabin, the Crew can put it out. If its in the hold, you have to hope that the Fire Suppression System is good enough to deal with it, or at least keep the fire mostly under control until you can get the plane on the ground. If the fire happens to take out key electronics or hydraulic lines, well your screwed. This is the reason why current regulations say you cannot have Li-Ion batteries in checked in luggage. The risk is too high.

      Basically, moving potential fires/bombs to the hold, might stop the couple of people sitting around the would-be bomber from being killed by the bomb explosion, but instead will endanger everybody on the entire aircraft. It will also make every aircraft a risk from exploding batteries of regular electronic devices rather then just the one aircraft that happens to have a Terrorist on board.

      So frankly, this is the exact opposite of good practice if you wanted to save people's lives...

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Not a Chartered/Certifies Engineer or engineer but

        But an unpressurized hold is hypoxic, poor fire conditions, whole a pressurized hold is crew-accessible so as to deal with live cargo.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "a pressurized hold is crew-accessible so as to deal with live cargo"

          Yes, an unpressurized hold would be a good solution against fire, but it would put many limitations on what is stored inside - you would also need luggage with a pressure control valve if they are sealed enough (hard cases like the Pelican ones, for example, have them), or they may open, and you may not be able to carry pressurized items, or any item that would suffer from pressure far below the "normal one", nor living animals.

          Not all holds (many planes don't have a single hold, they have separated ones) are easily accessible by the crew, especially on smaller planes (i.e. A320, 737), and a fire in the hold, with a lot of flammable material around (do you carry only fire-proof items with you?), may be harder to fight (although the hold as also fire suppression systems). Having lots of Li-Ion batteries around may just make it harder.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: "a pressurized hold is crew-accessible so as to deal with live cargo"

            Last I checked, pressurized stuff like aerosols are already banned from the hold, specifically since there's no assurance checked baggage will always be pressurized. Temperature-sensitive stuff is not recommended for the same reason.

            1. LDS Silver badge

              Re: "a pressurized hold is crew-accessible so as to deal with live cargo"

              Where did you check? For example http://blog.tsa.gov/2013/08/tsa-travel-tips-tuesday-aerosols.html says to put aerosols in bigger containers in checked baggage. I, and I guess many others, never had issues in packing such items.

              The only limitations I know about are for specific dangerous items - i.e. oxygen tanks. Anyway, specific goods may be only loaded in specific holds.

              Temperature in the hold is another matter. Some holds have heating - which could be turned on or off depending on the cargo. Others may just blow air from the cabin to avoid temperature going below 0°C.

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: "a pressurized hold is crew-accessible so as to deal with live cargo"

                I think the big thing is, due to the ban on fluorocarbons, most aerosols use hydrocarbon propellants. Hydrocarbons (like gasoline) ARE flammable, and flammable containers are generally prohibited on planes due to the fire risk. They only provide exemptions for stuff like toiletries, and even then they expect you to be reasonable (so no economy-sized canisters).

                1. lglethal Silver badge
                  Boffin

                  Re: "a pressurized hold is crew-accessible so as to deal with live cargo"

                  Just one comment on the Fire Suppresion Systems used in the Hold of an aircraft - Holds are generally packed very full, there's not a lot of space and things get shoved in whatever way the Throwers (sorry Baggage Handlers) feel like. This means that the Fire Suppresion System is never going to be acting optimally. There will be areas which are not seeing any direct water spray (due to bags in the way, etc.). And whilst there is a lot of redundancy built into the Systems to try to minimise these unsprayed Areas, and LOTS of Simulation and testing done to prove it, these systems are still never likely to ever be operated in an optimal firefighting environment.

                  It's far better to avoid the risk of the fire starting in the Hold in the first place, then rely on the FSS and the limited amount of water available to put one out after ist started...

                  1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                    Re: "a pressurized hold is crew-accessible so as to deal with live cargo"

                    Which is why airlines have a general "verboten" attitude to potential fire starters. That's why most aerosols aren't allowed (because of their hydrocarbon propellants and/or their actual contents being easy to set light). That's also why lithium batteries can't go in the hold unless in a special containment unit. At least in the cabin flight attendants can quickly see to thermal runaways. Which raises a prickly question to those who MUST take some kind of computing device with them because they can't trust devces or Internet access to be available at the destination.

                    1. LDS Silver badge

                      Re: "a pressurized hold is crew-accessible so as to deal with live cargo"

                      Feel free to check the actual rules:

                      http://www.iata.org/whatwedo/cargo/dgr/Pages/dgr-guidance.aspx

                  2. LDS Silver badge

                    Re: "a pressurized hold is crew-accessible so as to deal with live cargo"

                    Holds fire suppression systems aren't water sprinklers.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: "a pressurized hold is crew-accessible so as to deal with live cargo"

            "Not all holds (many planes don't have a single hold, they have separated ones) are easily accessible by the crew"

            MOST underfloor holds are inaccessible (without tearing up panels and carpets - some do have emergency access panels but the hint is in the word emergency). Even for the ones that are, contrary to TV representation, you'd find your way obstructed by LD3-type containers (actual type will vary by aircraft) - even if not full of cargo they'll stack empties in there to stop things moving around.

            There might be a crew rest or other prep area below decks but these aren't holds and seldom offer access to the hold areas - and even if they did, the fact that it's stuff full of cargo containers isn't going to make access possible.

            1. Orv Silver badge

              Re: "a pressurized hold is crew-accessible so as to deal with live cargo"

              I do always wonder -- if they use LD3s, why do they still have to run suitcases up a stupid little conveyor belt to get them inside the plane? Why not load the containers on the ground? Or is this more a widebody thing? I fly domestically in the US and no one really messes with anything bigger than a 757 anymore, here.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Not a Chartered/Certifies Engineer or engineer but

        "That means you can have great big gaping holes in the side of your aircraft and the plane will be able to fly and land without any problem."

        That really depends where the holes are and how fast the aircraft is going.

        The Lockerbie bomb only put a small hole in the side of the aircraft. Depressurisation made it a bit larger, but the protruding material at the edges caught a 600mph airstream and things unravelled pretty quickly from that point.

        1. Orv Silver badge

          Re: Not a Chartered/Certifies Engineer or engineer but

          More than one airplane has landed with a big hole in it, but it does depend a lot on where the hole is. The roof or cabin side seem to be relatively survivable spots. The hold can be bad because a lot of control wiring and hydraulic plumbing runs under the cabin floor, and depressurization there can cause the floor to partially collapse and damage the controls. Most planes now have vents in the floor area to help avoid this scenario. The hold is also close to some of the fuel tanks; greatest explosive potential there is when the tank is empty, i.e. filled with nothing but fumes and air.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Not a Chartered/Certifies Engineer or engineer but

      Most holds are pressurized - otherwise it would be an hazard for many cargo (i.e. pressurized items like your shaving foam). Unpressurized holds have limitations about what they can carry.

      It would be more complex to pressurize only the cabin section (the whole floor, for example, would need to stand the pressure difference).

      While it is true that a passenger with a bomb can try to put in close to the fuselage, it may happen in the hold as well - or it can set a fire, and a fire in the hold may be far more dangerous than one in the cabin. There are also many plane control lines and other equipment, inside the hold. Damaging enough of them may make the plane uncontrollable.

      A lot depends on the altitude - at higher altitude a hole in the fuselage is more dangerous than at lower ones, the pressure differential may increase the damages.

      Lockerbie bomb was in the hold.

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. Vic

      Re: Not a Chartered/Certifies Engineer or engineer but

      Now, fire away and tell me how I don't know anythiing about explosives, airplanes, cabin pressurisation, price of tea in China.

      Right you are.

      The hold is pressurised. Must be, if you think about it - both to prevent things exploding in there, and also because it's very much harder to create a non-elliptical pressure structure, and the cabin floor would tend to bulge into the hold...

      The hold is typically unheated, unless the aircraft is carrying live animals. But it is most assuredly pressurised.

      Vic.

    6. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Not a Chartered/Certifies Engineer or engineer but

      "the pressurised cabin" ...."an unpressurised hold"

      Whatever gave you the idea that holds are unpressurised?

      Unheated maybe, but definitely not unpressurised on a jetliner, else the floor would buckle.

  14. Martijn Otto

    If this ever becomes law

    You can no longer bring any electronic device with you on a flight to/from 'Murica. The fact that it is outside of your control for quite an extended period of time means anything could have happened to it. It is, essentially, no longer your device.

    Firmware updates, hardware keyloggers, anything is possible. They already require your bags to be 'locked' in a way that they can be opened by anyone with a master key (the TSA and anyone with a 3D-printer). They can thus do anything to your device without detection.

  15. chivo243 Silver badge

    Am I wrong?

    Or is this guy grasping at any possibly reason to justify\implement this?

    “There is a real threat. There's numerous threats against aviation. That's really the thing they are obsessed with, the terrorists, the idea of knocking down an airplane in flight, particularly if it is a US carrier, particularly if it is full of mostly US folks.”

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Am I wrong?

      He has probably been briefed, at some higher-than-top-secret-no-such-priority strictly confidential level by some mook of one of the usual-TLA-suspects that the lizard people started using entangled laptop screens as trans-dimensional teleportation gateways and plan to sling a thimbleful of anti-matter on board of a plane one of these days, so their mole must be prevented from accessing his laptop in-flight. At any rate they seem positively terrified under the weight of some Great Secret that is Their Burden To Know but cannot share. For our own good. Lest the baddies get tipped off to do whatever it is they're already planning to do. Or about us knowing about them planning to do it, which they obviously have no way to have any clue about. Shhh! They mustn't find out that we're onto them!

  16. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Another Brick in the Wall

    {of the USA's Isolation from the rest of the world}

    Gotta start somewhere

    And we are gonna pay for it.

    Sad times we live in.

  17. Brian Miller

    Laptop bomb, Lockerbie

    Nobody "in charge" seems to remember the bombing of Pan Am flight 103, coming down on Lockerbie. If a laptop can contain enough explosives to blow up the plane, putting it in the hold won't do a thing to make the aircraft safe. I'm sure that any laptop extended battery case can hold more explosive than the cassette player used to bring down flight 103.

    As for using a laptop while traveling, might as well use a tablet, a bluetooth keyboard, and something like VMware Horizons for iOS, or RDP for iOS.

    1. John Sturdy
      Black Helicopters

      I'm sure that's not the point

      As others have pointed out, this looks like it's really about separating you from your equipment, so that keylogging firmware can be installed (the "evil maid" attack).

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    you guys did not do enough Internet search

    A laptop can be turned into a plane hijacking device, taking control over of all plane's steering gear. Any one remember 9/11? Think of the laptop ban as a preventive measure against another false flag bloody murder.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Yup, I remember 911. None of the planes were hijacked by laptop. It is possible to take control of a plane via laptop, but that was done by a professional security tester - somehow I doubt terrorists will bother when a simple knife is enough to give them control of a plane.

    2. SolidSquid

      Re: you guys did not do enough Internet search

      This was a claim made by a Defcon presenter iirc, but it was discredited as he claimed to have gone through the airplane wifi but that runs on a separate network. Also, while he claimed to be able to access some of the plane's instrumentation, he wasn't able to access the actual controls

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: you guys did not do enough Internet search

      A laptop can be turned into a plane hijacking device, taking control over of all plane's steering gear.

      For a chilling deja-vu retrospect, see Episode 1 of "Lone Gunmen" - aired March 2001

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lone_Gunmen_(TV_series).

      So, it's not as if nobody had ever considered flying a plane into the world trade center.

  19. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    Somewhat off-topic tangent here - I think it's time for a remake of Air Force One; after all it's 20 years old already.

    1. SolidSquid

      Air Farce One: Trumping the Terrorists

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Air Force One

      A president ready to sacrifice everybody around him but not his own family is a perfect role for Trump...

      I really found the Harrison Ford role in that movie disgusting. As the President, you can't order other people to die for the Nation (represented by you) - just to change your mind when it's your family. Human, maybe, but when you're in such position, you can't pursue self-interest only, disregarding the wider consequences.

  20. Winkypop Silver badge
    Alert

    People are still going to the US?

    Is that still a thing?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: People are still going to the US?

      It's not even been half a year yet. Give Tango Man a full year and I'm sure he'll have managed it by then.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not just ban planes?

    That would solve the imaginary problem of laptops in the cabin versus the hold. Bombs be all like I gonna explode no matter where you put me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And if you need to cross the ocean in a hurry and/or on short notice?

  22. Barry Rueger Silver badge

    Sigh. Nostalgia...

    Yearning for simpler times when we just had to worry about underwear and shoe bombers.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Not to mention those prehistoric days of last millennia when we were actually free to move around unimpeded and could check in to a flight a quarter hour before take-off.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  23. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Let's go for the simple, obvious solution

    All passengers and crew fly naked, after a 'thorough' search. No luggage, hand or hold: luggage sent in a separate aircraft. No meals or drinks served (trolleys could contain a bomb from ground staff). In-flight magazines limited to 1 sheet of A4

    Simples

    1. mics39
      Trollface

      Re: Let's go for the simple, obvious solution

      Better yet, let's just ban all USAers from flying anywhere at all. The terrorists will be flummoxed.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Let's go for the simple, obvious solution

      And if someone SWALLOWED a bomb (can't be found even in a strip search) and then can induce him/herself to vomit at the right time while in the toilet (which MUST still be available for sanitation reasons)?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Let's go for the simple, obvious solution

        Everyone gets a diaper from the airline. And it's mandatory to wear it. Problem solved.

    3. Kernel

      Re: Let's go for the simple, obvious solution

      "All passengers and crew fly naked,"

      This has the potential to usher in a "golden age"* of in-flight entertainment.

      * no, you know full well what I meant, so let's not even go there.

      1. LDS Silver badge
        Coat

        "This has the potential to usher in a "golden age"* of in-flight entertainment."

        No, I'm the unlucky one who usually gets a place next to the the obese sweaty man.

        So I need my coat...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "This has the potential to usher in a "golden age"* of in-flight entertainment."

          Or the person who claims medical necessity due to have an allergy to the material in the diapers. Oh, and BTW he's undergoing a serious diarrhea attack for which he's trying to catch a flight home to see his doctor about.

  24. DaddyHoggy

    I don't like flying to the US, but occassionally I have to for work. My new work laptop doesn't even have a removeable battery (I guess this is also true for all Apple devices?). The thought of all those Li-ion batteries being thrown around and then stuffed together in close proximity where they can't be got to in the event of a breach/fire is scary.

    If I have to go back I may suggest work Fedex's my machine there and back again - or buys me a $200 machine while I'm out there (whichever is cheaper).

    And I still don't see how the US changing its rules stacks up against International Law that specifically forbids the loading of Li-ion batteries into the hold. (Although the US does believe its laws are the laws for the whole world, so perhaps this conflict hasn't occurred to them?)

  25. Jason Hindle

    I can see this creating a new market

    Airport laptop rental at the point of arrival. Choice of either Chromebook or something that comes with VirtualBox and the VMware player. Those (I assume many) of us who have a US employer will have a laptop waiting, either at the hotel, if visiting a client, or at the office if visiting the mothership. Getting the customer to store spare devices is also an option.

    I don't see the point of ban. I don't see how it will make us more secure. A bomb is a bomb, and a relatively small bomb will take down a plane regardless of placement. However, I do think we'll all adapt and get on with it. No matter how onerous these regulations become, I predict a majority of us (perhaps fifty two percent) will continue to vote for morons.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I can see this creating a new market

      "Airport laptop rental at the point of arrival."

      Presumably operated by a TLA.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let's just make sure that it is all reciprocated

    The only way the rest of the world should accept this is if it includes applying this to US politicians who dare leave the country, including those who use their own plane.

    I'm sure we can temporarily change the orange to red during the rubber glove treatment..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Let's just make sure that it is all reciprocated

      I'm sure we can temporarily change the orange to red during the rubber glove treatment..

      Challenge accepted :)

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The most significant threat when flying ..

    .. is coming anywhere near the US of A, so if you avoid that you should be fine.

  28. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: Nice try, but...

      Not sure what you are on about but you can go via Singapore with Air NZ (code share)

      After flying once to NZ via the hell-hole that is LA transit, I have flown via Singapore to NZ since then.

      1. EuKiwi

        Re: Nice try, but...

        Some people want to fly Air NZ all the way, that's what he's 'on about'. Flying code share means you're not then actually flying Air NZ are you?

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Nice try, but...

        "After flying once to NZ via the hell-hole that is LA transit, I have flown via Singapore to NZ since then."

        I've been both ways several times. It's nicer via HK or BKK, but LAX was "best avoided" back in the 1980s let alone more recent times.

        I haven't tried the Gulf route (yet) and the idea of a flight of that duration makes me shudder.

        As for "Air NZ" - there are better airlines to fly to NZ with (and a lot worse ones too).

    2. EuKiwi

      Re: Nice try, but...

      Oh God I couldn't agree more - what I wouldn't give for an Air NZ route which avoided the US.

  29. Amorous Cowherder
    Thumb Up

    Absolutely brilliant for local economies!

    Hear me out...

    Take 1 child on plane, take away tablet/phone, bloody major annoyance ensues. Multiply by X number of bored kids on X number of planes, absolutely bloody chaos! Parents shouting, ruined holidays. This will lead to parents knowing they are in for a world of misery, they will cancel long haul holidays, take shorter, closer destinations, a boost for European economies in our case, major loss for US tourism.

    1. EuKiwi

      Re: Absolutely brilliant for local economies!

      They are not suggesting that tablets be banned, only laptops, as far as I can tell.

      1. SolidSquid

        Re: Absolutely brilliant for local economies!

        The current ban is on any electronic device above a certain size. It's largely reported as a "laptop ban", but also covers things like tablets and phablets. The concern seems to be people swapping out the battery for explosives, so it's likely the ban would apply to both

  30. macaroo

    I went thru TSA security checks last week on a US domestic flight. The inspector took a hard look at my wrist watch to make sure that the second hand was still turning. He also wanted to take a look at the clasp. I guess he was looking for wires. Are exploding watches the next threat device???

    1. DropBear Silver badge
      Trollface

      My word, man, haven't you seen what 007 can do with a wristwatch-laser?!? They could cut the whole plane in half!

    2. Orv Silver badge

      He'd just never seen someone wearing one, in the age of cell phones.

  31. Arachnoid
    Joke

    whatever way the Throwers (sorry Baggage Handlers) feel like

    Ex Delivery drivers ........possibly

    1. Snar
      Joke

      Re: whatever way the Throwers (sorry Baggage Handlers) feel like

      This reminds me of this old chestnut....

      Did you know that fork-lift drivers don't like jokes?

      They find them unpalatable...

  32. nilfs2
    Megaphone

    The terrorists won!!!

    The USA is terrified!!!

  33. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Just another reason to telecomute or use private transport.

    Coming soon: downswing in tres expensive business class ticket sales brings airline penury and layoffs. Trump to move aggressively to rid the nation of this onerous legislation, bring back airline jobs and Make Americas Airlines Great Again.

    Or something.

  34. Norman Nescio Silver badge

    Removable batteries

    If it remains impractical to determine if batteries have been tampered with during the standard airport security procedures, then I predict an increase in the production of devices with standardised removable batteries. Fly without a battery, and purchase one at the destination for use there.

    In my opinion, this would be a good thing. While from an aesthetic design point of view, non-removable batteries crammed into whatever odd space is available allows for thin devices, removable batteries in standard formats have a lot of practical benefits. Yes, they add weight and thickness, but allow for instant replacement of discharged batteries with a fully charged set, and mean you don't have to send your device to landfill when the battery stops holding enough charge.

    There are other possibilities. Someone might come up with a battery technology that easily shows tampering to security personnel; or a new security screening technique might be invented and rolled-out. There's a great deal of commercial pressure to come up with a sufficiently robust screening technique.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Removable batteries

      There's also a lot of commercial pressure to NOT have the batteries be replaceable, for the very reasons you describe. A phone that goes to the landfill means another phone to be sold which means KA-CHING for the phone maker (since phone sales are practically the ONLY way phone makers make money). Not to mention it stops aftermarket sales cold. And since every phone maker is in cutthroat competition with every OTHER phone maker, they won't agree on anything.

      As for hiding bombs in things, you're noticing how ingenious bomb makers can be. The Lockerbie bomb, if you'll recall, was in a tape player. If they can't put it in a battery, they'll put it in the rest of the phone and keep moving around until they find something that can't be banned from the plane without making the flight lose its purpose. That's why I mentioned the dildo bomb. A woman kinky enough to wear a dildo bomb in a lower orifice pretty much represents no holds barred. The only ways you can reliably detect a women concealing a dildo bomb will render the whole air travel industry impractical. If someone wants to blow up a plane, they'll do it in spite of God, Man, or the Devil.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Removable batteries

        " A woman kinky enough to wear a dildo bomb in a lower orifice pretty much represents no holds barred. "

        Whilst this might seem like a new idea it's not - and the amount of damage done in the cabin by bombs of this size have only been enough to kill whoever was sitting in the seat and perhaps a couple around it.

        Keeping valuables safe dates at least as far back as "Papillion" (look up his description of "chargers") and instead of exploding one in-situ, you can always extract it in the lavatory and put it under a seat (this has been done at least once already)

  35. EuKiwi

    Potential ticking time bomb?

    Now, I'll freely admit I'm not an expert on this, but I would be rather nervous about the thought of having all those Li-Ion batteries in the hold. Granted, I'm sure there are always some there even now, but the more you have down there, surely the higher the risk of dodgy/compromised battery burning up?

    We've all seen videos of devices flaring up in the cabin where things can at least to a degree be controlled, and deprived of other non-oxygen fuel, but in the hold - perhaps the built in fire suppression systems could cope. Again, I'm not an expert and it's just throwing the idea out there.

    Also, I'm not sure about whether or not the device is in use or not in the cabin was the key factor, but I'm also guessing a lot of laptops in the hold would be in sleep mode, not fully switched off...

    1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: Potential ticking time bomb?

      Now, I'll freely admit I'm not an expert on this, but I would be rather nervous about the thought of having all those Li-Ion batteries in the hold. Granted, I'm sure there are always some there even now, but the more you have down there, surely the higher the risk of dodgy/compromised battery burning up?

      They'll change it to where only devices powered by hand-crank will be allowed. Foot-pedal chargers would have to go in the hold because they're too bulky for the in-cabin storage.

      This one (http://www.prc68.com/I/Images/G8A.jpg) would absolutely be too large.

  36. Jonathan 27 Bronze badge

    "It's a real threat"

    No, it isn't. If it really was then all similar devices would be banned from planes entirely, including checked luggage. This is just another fake security measure that's been implemented as an attempt to convince pudding-headed simpletons that airport security is excellent and air travel is just as safe as ever. It's totally pointless and only serves to annoy, but they think it will put simple minds at ease so they do it. I personally think they shouldn't be wasting time and money on things like this, because air travel genuinely IS as safe as ever, but the powers that be seem to think the public are a bunch of idiots (and I'm not sure I disagree).

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "No, it isn't. If it really was then all similar devices would be banned from planes entirely, including checked luggage."

      Until you realize too many people use such devices...ON the flights. IOW, a total ban would result in a total backlash, as it would be going TOO FAR. It's like with the liquids in the carry-ons (nitroglycerin threat). Ban all liquids from carry-ons and people would've rebelled for reasons of liquid medicines and so on.

      That's why I'm waiting for something like the dildo bomb, where the government is forced to throw up its hands because nothing known to man can stop that without ending the airline industry as we know it, and such a shakeup of reliable quick travel (especially across oceans) can have severe consequences for western civilization since a lot of modern society is dependent on air transit.

  37. TK

    After seeing the way airlines throw luggage, I'd be loathe to check a laptop. But even if folks did, what's to keep a baddie from checking the machine in their luggage, flying to some other location for the day, then catching a domestic business shuttle to their "final destination"?

    I'm all for being safe, that's great, but this is getting increasingly stupid.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "After seeing the way airlines throw luggage, I'd be loathe to check a laptop. But even if folks did, what's to keep a baddie from checking the machine in their luggage, flying to some other location for the day, then catching a domestic business shuttle to their "final destination"?"

      One, you're supposed to pick up your bags when you stop flying (your final destination is on your boarding passes and luggage tag, so you're tracked from leg to leg), otherwise it and you are flagged as suspicious. Two, laptops in checked luggage are a double-whammy: since they usually contain lithium-based batteries, they're a fire risk and normally not allowed; also, they're considered high-value (both contents and fencing value) and thus at high risk for theft.

  38. Phukov Andigh Bronze badge

    Heh, with Fatherland Security I'd not want a laptop anyway.

    I don't think I'd even want to travel with a laptop, knowing how over the decade the powers given to search, scan and thoroughly abuse hardware is constantly increasing, I'd rather not have a laptop with me.

    Seems for most any use, whether private or business, information could be accessed remotely and kept completely off the hardware. As business there should be hardware available or failing that, carry around a "dumb terminal" laptop and keep a ghost image stashed in checked luggage. That way when its trashed, you can recover, then run your presentation from wherever your data is stashed.

    Security theatre, where the star is YOU. Look secured!

    (fortunately I can't afford air travel across the ocean so the only worry I have is whether TSA will find how crappy I am at FPS games if they decide to have intra continental laptop use banned. Or having to

    prove I actually DO have the DVDs that I ripped onto my travel drive...)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Heh, with Fatherland Security I'd not want a laptop anyway.

      "Seems for most any use, whether private or business, information could be accessed remotely and kept completely off the hardware. As business there should be hardware available or failing that, carry around a "dumb terminal" laptop and keep a ghost image stashed in checked luggage. That way when its trashed, you can recover, then run your presentation from wherever your data is stashed."

      I still think Murphy has too many ways to strike. You could be going somewhere where Internet access isn't reliable or trustworthy, nor may you be able to trust any device you acquire at your destination. Stashing something in the checked baggage is probably just begging for it to be stolen or confiscated. So what options are left if you MUST bring a laptop with your WITH a local copy of the data because you can't be sure of having any other way to acquire it (or it's simply too large to do it remotely)?

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the "fullness" of people's carry on bags is a problem, maybe the government should instead compel airlines to accept a minimum number of checked bags at no cost from each passenger, leaving the X-ray machines a better view to check electronics. Although I can now see sales of hard side cases booming which isn't a bad thing anyway. Also, how will they be able to tell if you are going international or domestic at screening and what you should or should not have? And If this is such a risk why Are these electronics not being banned on domestic flights? I can see a future boom for selling cheap burner Laptops at the airport though, or a service to greet travelers and issue them a burner or leased laptop for their travels.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "Also, how will they be able to tell if you are going international or domestic at screening and what you should or should not have?"

      You show your boarding pass at the checkpoint AND at the gate. Both are potential gotcha points. Plus the reason many people insist on carry-on luggage is because they don't trust stuff to stay in the hold, and there's no way to ensure their security without risking another Lockerbie, so it's a no-win situation.

  40. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    FAIL!

    Essentially this is an admission by the TSA that their x-ray and inspection methods do not work - no big surprise there.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: FAIL!

      No, what this REALLY means is that bomb-making each has reached the "nuclear" stage. By that I mean, to use siege warfare terminology, the inevitable endpoint has been reached: the more-flexible attackers now have the means (like say a Tactical Nuke) to overcome any possible defense the other side can possibly present. The technology has reached the point where no defense known to man can be even practically effective unless the attacker is stupid and/or incompetent. Either because the bomb can get through or the defenses that work come with so many strings attached as to be impractical (like x-rays--you either die from the bombs or die from the cancer: no-win situation).

  41. Grunchy

    Who fights with aircraft security?

    A terrorist fights with aircraft security, presumably.

    Think about what security personnel are doing: securing YOUR LIFE. You're going to fight those people and impede that process?

    Rather than 'fight the system' like a dope, why not think of a technological solution.

    For Instance: why does your mobile computer need a battery anyway, why not bring something like a Mac Mini that has no battery.

    1. Wee Heavy

      Re: Who fights with aircraft security?

      Mac minis do have a battery. It's a BR2032 Lithium Polymer battery that keeps the clock running and a few other things while disconnected from power.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Who fights with aircraft security?

      Not even technology can fight physics. If you want to get work done and you're far from a source of power, you MUST take some with you. And bomb makers have now shown that they can make bombs out of practically ANYTHING portable AND make it such it can fool even x-rays. If it isn't laptop batteries, it'll be something else. They're even working on bombs IN people. Imagine the force of that one bomb in 2009 would've been if the bomber had been able to take it out first.

    3. patrickstar

      Re: Who fights with aircraft security?

      This isn't about the batteries. It's about bringing a case that can be stuffed with explosives.

      Which a Mac Mini certainly could.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Who fights with aircraft security?

        No, it really IS about the batteries. Recent intel indicates bomb makers are developing bombs that (1) are concealed inside actual working batteries, meaning they can be turned on and running to pass TSA-type checks, AND (b) can't be distinguished from real batteries even under an x-ray, presumably because they can use the battery material itself as a screen.

        1. patrickstar

          Re: Who fights with aircraft security?

          Interesting!

          Makes me think of the 2010 printer cartridge bomb plot, which was supposedly only foiled because of Saudi intelligence.

          There was actually a surprisingly detailed article about it in Inspire Magazine. They basically wanted to boast that they were able to make bombs indistinguishable from printer cartridges on X-ray. This involved using explosives with the same density as the original contents.

          It's in the November 2010 issue if someone is interested - I'm not linking it here since people have actually been prosecuted for mere possesssion of that magazine.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Emptying your carry-on completely?!

    Can you imagine what the security lines will be like at the airports if everyone has to completely empty their carry-on bags... You'll never fly again.

  43. jelabarre59 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Cryogenics

    I'm certain the TSA and even more so the airlines are looking forward to the day we can readily put people in cryosleep. Then they could just flash-freeze the "human cargo" and just stack us all in a cargo hold. Higher density in the flight, no need to have crew to take care of passengers, if they overbook they can just wheel off any passenger-container they need (United would love to have had that).

    They could even have a flight handle multiple airports. Have the passengers for a particular airport bundled onto the same pallets and just do a low-level air-drop (don't even have to land).

    I've put WAY too much thought into this one...

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