Check in my notebook, iPad or laptop? Not bloody likely!

Written by on March 23, 2017 in Opinion with 1 Comment

check-inIs this a genuine security scare, just another way to collect money from us or the end of air travel as we know it? I am referring to the latest ‘security measure’ being initiated by the USA and UK forcing passengers emanating from a number of Middle East and North African airports to check in their laptops, notebooks and tablets. As a regular air traveller clocking up over 150,000 air miles each year I can tell you I’m not just annoyed, I smell a rat.

So, by now, all the security freaks reading this, the ones brain-washed by all the fear-mongering national security organisations and politicians have pumped us with for years, will be screaming out it’s for our own good. Bollocks.

I have more chance of being run over by a car, being attacked by a loony in the street or being shot by a hunter in France where I live, than by getting blown up by a computer on a plane. But let’s get back to basics.

Osama Bin Laden achieved exactly what he set out to do in the World Trade Centre attacks – he changed all our lives, not just American’s, for ever. Security measures implemented at all airports in the world have made air travel a tedious, mind-numbing and aggravating experience. The security inconsistencies from one airport to another make it farcical at times and when you have the audacity to ask why the rules changed from the day before you are met with a hostile glare and the threat of missing your flight. I have learnt you have no rights at all when you step into that security queue, none.

Now it seems that all those x-ray machines, scanners and explosive swab testers were really just a smoke screen and having to take your ‘portable devices’ out of their snug bags so they could be x-rayed separately was all for show. This new directive says to me that none of those things really had any effect. They now want us to put them into our checked luggage. Don’t ask why, you’ll just get the same old ‘security reasons’ answer and ‘it’s for your own good to protect you’.

Protect me from what, exactly? I’d like some protection from the intrusive checks and the often-grumpy and officious staff manning checkpoints. So, the device will now be safer in the hold of the plane. Really? If somebody really wanted to use it to blow up the plane would it be less of a threat down there? I doubt it. I can’t think of any reason a checked device would be safer than one that goes through closer inspection as carry-on.

News reports suggest that it is more difficult to trigger an explosive device in the hold. Another furphy. Many are triggered by mobile phones simply by calling the number and with mobile phone use being offered on many international flights that argument loses all credibility.

Of course, the adamant bomber could simply add an altimeter switch that triggers at a certain height or air pressure. An old favourite from days gone by.

I can recall many years ago I my notebook being weighed at a German airport to confirm it was legitimate and, more recently, being asked to turn on every device to ensure they worked. Am I supposed to believe that x-raying checked luggage will be more effective. Get real. What it will do is highlight which bags have computing devices in them making them much easier targets for unscrupulous ground handling staff. Oh, my apologies to the honest ones out there, but having had stuff stolen from my bags on numerous occasions gives me the right to point this out. And I suspect I am not the only one.

And how many devices will be destroyed in checked luggage as it is dropped or tossed around. Will we have special tags to highlight the bags containing valuable kit that need ‘special handling’? What will happen to travel insurance prices if you want total coverage?

It may actually be a boon for some airlines that charge extra for checked luggage. For the 90% of short-term business travellers that only take carry-on, inadvertently with a notebook or tablet, they will be forced to pay extra.

I, for one, will no longer be travelling on airlines that hub at the affected airports. I wonder how many others will follow suit. I cannot travel without my computer, it is critical for my work, and I don’t plan to spend two to ten hours plus on any flight without the ability to work or risk it being stolen or destroyed as checked luggage.

Maybe, I’m reading this wrong, maybe it’s just a ploy to save the security staff a lot of work. I guess, for security reasons, we will never know. We may have to wait for Wikileaks to tell us the real reasons. I suspect, if this is a real threat, the ‘threateners’ might try out alternative airports in other regions. It won’t be long before this directive spreads, mark my word. Oh, and don’t forget to add an extra hour to get through the massive queues at check in. Now that should be fun.

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About the Author

About the Author: Tony is a freelance writer, regular speaker, MC and chairman for the telecoms and digital services industries worldwide. He has founded and managed software and services companies, acts a market strategist and is now Editor of DisruptiveViews. In June 2011, Tony was recognized as one of the 25 most influential people in telecom software worldwide. .

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  1. Avatar Andrew Doyle says:

    Tony, once again I find myself in violent agreement with one of your articles. What is truly challenging is the total lack of transparency and honesty from the governments, airlines and airport operating authorities involved in this program. There was a claim, reported in The Times of London I believe, that hold baggage is more intensely scrutinised and sniffer dogs are used to check baggage ahead of loading. This apparently is the justification for insisting on laptops and tablets to be consigned to the hold. Frankly I find this incredulous. Perhaps, this may be the case in one or two airports in the world but I very much doubt that the same level of security diligence applies to all the airports to which this ban now applies. In which case we have now probably increased the risk of an airborne explosive incident, not decreased it. I also agree from painful experience that hold baggage is far more likely to be pilfered from, even when protected by so called TSA approved locks. Obviously the perfect solution would be for the 1st world economies to stop meddling in other countries business and in time perhaps their outright hatred of our Imperial past might ameliorate. But that I suspect is truly asking far too much.

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