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Take Our Bodies, Not Our iPads!

Is the new electronic devices travel ban a workable, long-term solution?

Passengers have grudgingly accepted serpentine security lines, “naked” body scanners and liquid bans in the name of safety, but new restrictions on our cherished laptops and tablets may prove too much to bear.

The U.S. and U.K. have banned incoming travelers from carrying electronic devices larger than a mobile phone on flights from many Middle Eastern and North African countries.

Airline trade body IATA, however, has questioned the measures, describing them as an unworkable long-term solution.

“We call on governments to work with the industry to find a way to keep flying secure without separating passengers from their personal electronics,” says Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.

The former Air France chief points out several flaws in the plan, notably the fact that the U.S. and U.K. don’t have a common list of outbound airports to which the ban applies.

“How can laptops be secure in the cabin on some flights and not others, including flights departing from the same airport?” asks de Juniac.

He’s correct, of course, but, in truth, post-9/11 security policy always has been riddled with inconsistencies.

Take the liquids ban, for instance: 10 years after this supposedly temporary measure was introduced, we are still stuffing miniature toiletries into polythene bags. No one really knows why 100 ml is the cut-off point, why zero deviation in bag size is permitted, or even if the policy responds to a feasible terrorist objective.

In 2008, all eight men accused of plotting to bring down aircraft with homemade liquid explosives were acquitted of that charge, although several were found guilty of other offenses.

And in the present case, is the transfer of lithium-powered devices from cabin to hold merely exchanging one risk for another?

On the other hand, an extended laptop ban might be good news for the IFE market, and the modification providers who benefit from it.  

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