Following the announcement that laptops, tablets and some mobile phones will be banned from hand luggage on certain flights, I am taking a look at the actual details of the restrictions on cabin baggage and how this will affect travellers. Please note, this article includes details of the UK ban. America has issued its own ban and the details are slightly different. You can check out this factsheet from the Department of Homeland Security.
Upon first impression, the ban seems simple enough, just a little inconvenient. So, you can’t watch a movie on your tablet, you can’t complete that work document you were hoping to catch up on whilst flying, the kids can’t occupy themselves by playing a game. No big deal really compared to a security threat, you just need to check your luggage into the hold, easy right? Not really – let’s take a look.
Which flights will be affected?
The new rules regarding hand luggage will apply to ALL inbound direct flights from the following countries (according to the Gov.uk website):
- Saudi Arabia
What is banned?
Laptops, Tablets and Phones exceeding the measurements below will NOT be allowed in the cabin:
- length: 16.0cm
- width: 9.3cm
- depth: 1.5cm
The hand luggage ban also applies to any device which exceeds the measurements above and which are designed to be used with the above devices:
- power cable transformers
- external hard drives
In addition to the above:
- spare batteries
- separate device batteries
- portable power sources
will NOT be allowed ONBOARD the aircraft at all – this means they will not be allowed in either hand or hold luggage
Even if you are on a flight which originates from a country not included in the above list, but you then have to transfer flights within one of the affected countries, you will also be subject to the rules. Don’t get caught out – double check your flights and transfers
Under the UK ban, Cameras are still allowed in the cabin but the US has banned them.
Of course, putting all your electrical items in your hold luggage will soon add up. Let’s say you are a family of four and you have a laptop, a Kindle, and two iPads, imagine the extra weight in your suitcase. Take care – exceeding the weight restriction can be costly.
One airline has announced increasing their ‘paid for’ luggage allowances by 3kg, at no extra cost, to allow for the additional weight that your electrical items will create. To date, there is no mention of this from any of the other airlines affected.
I took a look at EasyJet and their charges are clearly explained on their website. If you think you need an additional weight allowance it will definitely work out cheaper if you book this in advance. For example, they charge £3 per kilo for pre-booked increases in weight. However, if you are in excess of the weight limit upon reaching the check-in desk, they will charge you £10 per kilo.
You may even find the need to add on EXTRA luggage to accommodate the extra items now being packed in your hold luggage. By the time you have your electrical items in your case there will be no room for your clothes and toiletries and the only solution may be to take an extra suitcase.
Pre-booking extra bags will obviously work out cheaper. Again, looking at EasyJet and their charges:
Hold Luggage up to £20 kgs Online: £13-£30 At Airport: £35/£45
That is a big difference. I would definitely recommend checking the charges with your airline in advance of travelling.
Anyone who has travelled by plane will have experienced queueing at the Gate. Here you sometimes get a really good view of your luggage being delivered to the plane and being loaded on-board. Or you may have even been watching when the luggage is being removed from the plane. It’s not a pretty sight! I have seen cases dropped, I have seen them fall off the luggage carts and I have had plenty of broken suitcases in my time. Now imagine your tablet or laptop in that case.
‘Don’t worry it’s insured’ you may be thinking – but is it? There has been speculation that some insurance companies won’t pay out if any item has been ‘out of sight’ and it would certainly have been out of sight if it has been placed in the hold. Advice would suggest checking with your insurance provider before you go and getting clarification in writing.
Of course, the whole point of the ban is to increase the safety of travellers and that’s obviously a good thing. I do wonder if this could become a blanket ban affecting all flights – inbound or outbound to any country.
In conclusion, it would appear best if we all left our devices at home when travelling but, in this online, connected world, that wouldn’t be easy. I love having my boarding passes on my mobile and my hotel confirmation in my emails. I like to be able to check my flight status or the opening times of attractions I wish to visit whilst in a country, not to mention keeping in touch with people whilst I am away.
Remember, check your flights, your transfers, your luggage allowances and weight restrictions and check with your insurance company. Then all that is left is for you to enjoy your flight and have a great trip.
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