A new laptop ban could hurt more than airlines

Jed Kim May 17, 2017
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A Syrian woman travelling to the United States through Amman opens her laptop before checking in at Beirut's international airport in March. ANWAR AMRO/AFP/Getty Images

A new laptop ban could hurt more than airlines

Jed Kim May 17, 2017
A Syrian woman travelling to the United States through Amman opens her laptop before checking in at Beirut's international airport in March. ANWAR AMRO/AFP/Getty Images
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U.S. and European officials are meeting in Brussels today to discuss a potential ban on laptops on flights from Europe to the U.S. The Trump administration’s reasons are concerns about safety and terrorism. What impact could the ban have?

Aviation consultant Michael Boyd said a ban on tablets and laptops would be a deterrent to flying. Trans-Atlantic flights can be long and boring, but they give business travelers valuable hours to work on their devices.  

“Many of those business people will say, ‘I’ll find other ways of communicating, because if I can’t take my laptop, I won’t be effective on this trip,” Boyd said.

If would-be travelers instead opt for, say, video conferencing, airlines could see big losses.

“They make up over 50 percent of the revenue,” Boyd said. “So everyone you lose, because he or she does not want to check their Macbook Pro, is going to be a real hit.”

Brian Sumers, with travel industry website Skift, said a ban wouldn’t just hurt airlines and business travelers, but also the U.S. tourism industry. 

“Hotels, and rental car companies, and tour companies, and really anybody who deals with tourists on a day-to-day basis,” Sumers said.

Some experts see today’s meeting as a sign the ban will likely go through. A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said a decision has yet to be made, but that a ban would largely mirror one set in place on flights from several Middle Eastern airports.

“It is likely to follow the decision that was announced back in March, that it would restrict from the cabin of aircraft on certain flights electronic devices larger than a cell phone or smartphone,” said David Lapan.

It’s still unclear which European airports would be affected.

“The type of restrictions and the locations is still to be determined,” Lapan said.

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