Garza said that such a ban would significantly impact his productivity on flights. He said he travels outside the U.S. about three times a month. He also noted that many airlines, such as United, have removed the in-flight entertainment screens from their aircraft, and now rely on passengers using their own tablets or laptops for in-flight information.
Both Aggarwal and Garza pointed out that most business travelers don’t currently check
luggage, instead carrying it on as hand luggage. Requiring them to begin checking luggage would easily add significant delays to their flights.
“This is more security theater,” said Alan Zeichick, principal analyst at Camden Associates. “This is there to show that we are doing something, even though it may not make any difference at all.”
Zeichick pointed out that if there is a real threat, the laptop ban should apply to any aircraft from anywhere. He also noted that the requirement to check laptops with luggage had security ramifications. “I’ve had stuff stolen from checked luggage,” he said.
At this point, it’s not clear whether the DHS will have its way. But if it does, and the laptop ban goes into effect, there are a couple of not very good options.
First, you can hope that the TSA PreCheck you paid for will actually do some good, and allow you to carry your laptop or tablet in the passenger cabin. Considering that you’ve had an investigation and background check, this would make sense, which means it probably won’t happen.
You can send an inexpensive laptop to the hotel you’re going to by Federal Express or another courier service, so at least you’ll have one when you get there.
You can put your laptop in your luggage and hope for the best, but also carry a USB thumb drive in your pocket with the information and documents you need when you get there.
You can try getting the largest phone the government will allow, and resign yourself to working using your phone, at least until your eyes give out. Just make sure to carry a charger cable with you.
You can fly back from Europe via Toronto or other Canadian gateway airport where TSA rules don’t apply. If necessary, you can take the train from Toronto to the U.S.
And, of course, you can decide to simply not go. If enough people do this, it will adversely affect the economy in both Europe and the U.S., which might get the administration’s notice. Telepresence works well, and is quite effective. But you can also use Skype or another video conference application. That will have the advantage of being cheaper and you won’t have to worry about the DHS people at all.