Some travelers bound for the U.S. and the U.K. are searching for alternate routes to avoid the challenges of the new normal of aviation security. In a new survey of 1,566 passengers conducted by ExpertFlyer.com, 40 percent said they are directly impacted by the electronics ban that bars the carry-on of electronics larger than a phone on flights from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa. Of those who are feeling the impact, 40 percent said they are planning to adjust their itineraries to avoid parting ways with their electronics. Airlines such as Emirates are loaning laptops to passengers in first or business class, but the borrow-a-computer programs aren’t solving all the problems. Forty-two percent of respondents said they would never use a free loaner laptop.
“For the traveler who wants to work in flight, it isn’t a replacement at all,” Gary Leff, founder of ViewFromTheWing.com, wrote. “You don’t have access to your hard drive and you probably don’t want to use a USB drive for fear of leaving a digital footprint behind. The device doesn’t have the software or apps needed to work effectively, and there are serious security issues to consider.”
Bracing for a Bigger Impact
While individual travelers are worried about protecting sensitive information, the government is listening to signals that they may need to be even more worried about terrorist threats from explosive devices hidden in electronics. Last week, reports surfaced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is considering expanding the ban to airports in Europe, too. That expansion could be on the way very soon. In fact, Delta had already posted a disclaimer in the Cincinnati airport that only cell phones would be permitted onboard international flights bound for the U.S. The sign was taken down, but it’s a clear indication that U.S. carriers are gearing up for enhanced security procedures. If those procedures are approved, the summer travel season will be much more hectic. Last year, approximately 30 million people flew from airports in Europe to the U.S. ACI Europe — an organization that represents airport operators across the continent — projects a summer schedule of 3,257 flights per week to the U.S. As business travelers wait for what’s next, today’s Bloomberg headline may offer a good preview of the future: “Brace for Chaos If U.S. Expands Airline Laptop Ban.”
Have any of your international attendees voiced concern over the electronics ban? Are you taking any additional steps to communicate with attendees outside the U.S. to help prepare for their travel? Go to Catalyst to share your thoughts.