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LISTEN: Who pays if that laptop is stolen or damaged after check-in?

The ban on taking laptops and tablets into the cabin on certain flights into the US and UK is about a lot more than not being able to do some work on your laptop on that long haul flight.

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Listen to Wendy's on-air segment or read the full story below the podcast.


For now the restriction applies to electronic devices bigger than a standard cellphone or smartphone, so laptops, games consoles, tablets, e-readers - on certain flights from mainly Middle Eastern countries. So if you are flying out of or via airports in Cairo, Kuwait City, Dubai, Doha, Abu Dhabi, Casablanca, Jeddah, Amman, Riyadh or Istanbul on any of the following airlines, you can only take that one small screen on board with you: Royal Jordanian, Egypt Air, Turkish Airlines, Saudia, Kuwait Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Royal Air Maroc. 

It’s been widely reported that the new security measures follow intelligence obtained earlier this year indicating terrorists were working on ways to smuggle explosives on to planes by hiding them in electronics.

ALSO READ: What we know about the laptop, tablet ban on flights

The ban will be in force by this Saturday, and the implications are many, ranging in seriousness…

The airline most affected in South Africa would be Emirates, as the airline has direct flights from Jo’burg, Cape Town and Durban to Dubai and then on to several American cities.

I sent Emirates a list of questions about the electronics ban and its implications and received the following statement in response:

“Emirates can confirm that as per the new security directive issued by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), electronic devices larger than a cell phone or smart phone, excluding medical devices, cannot be carried in the cabin of the aircraft.

“The directive comes into effect on 25 March 2017 and is valid until 14 October 2017, and is applicable to all US-bound passengers from Dubai International Airport, whether originating or transiting through.”


There are many implications to consider:


1. Many people, to avoid pilferage from or damage to their bags,  and to reduce their chances of missing a connecting flight, choose to only ever travel with carry-on bags, even on long-haul flights. I’m one of them. So now that option, on those flights, doesn't exist anymore.


2. This is the major one - no airline takes any responsibility for electronic “valuables” which are packed into check-in baggage. At all. The advice has always been to keep them in your hand luggage.

And you can bet that morally challenged baggage handlers will be targeting baggage going via those countries. 


3. Those electonrics will be risk of being not only stolen but damaged. Anyone who has ever looked out of airport or aeroplane window and seen suitcases and bags literally being chucked into bins or out of a hold will know what I’m talking about. So how do we protect our sensitive laptops and tablets from being damaged?


I put these questions to the Emirates spokesman but he didn’t answer them.


Yesterday, I spoke to Cape-based journalist Norman McFarlane, who recently booked and paid for Emirates flights for himself and his wife from Cape Town to Los Angeles, via Dubai, departing in mid-June.

He said the cabin ban on tablets, e-readers and laptops had forced him to take expensive steps to deal with the risk of theft and damage to those electronic items.

And what he’s done serves as good advice to other people who’ve booked on a flight with the cabin bag on electronic goods bigger than a smartphone.

He’s made sure that all the information on his laptop is backed up on the Cloud, so if it doesn’t make it to LA, he hasn’t lost all the information on it.

He’s contacted his insurance company and made sure that all his electronic items are fully covered in terms of his All Risks. 

He intends to invest in a sturdy clam-shell, non-zip suitcases, and insure them as well.

And finally he and his wife will get their cases shrink-wrapped at the airport.

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