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Discussion: Airlines Electronics Ban

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#1 Andrea B.

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 13:29

Editor's Note: I have split off the initial posts here from another thread so that we will have a place to discuss the proposed airlines ban on traveling with electronics such as laptops and digital cameras.



Enrico Savazzi wrote 15 May 2017:

By the way, I will be three weeks in Montana (including Yellowstone) next month, so there should be a chance of photographing large mammals in NIR and NUV. However, a ban on electronics in hand luggage on flights from EU to US is being discussed. This would mean an end to my vacations in the US, since I am not interested in a vacation without cameras. I guess the same problem will occur to photographers flying abroad from the US when they come back home. It might be a good idea to start an active, frequently updated thread on this problem on this site.

Andrea responded 15 May 2017:

Yellowstone is a magnificent park, so I do hope you are able to make the visit. The various hot (and some cold) springs and geysers have so many intriguing colors due to the chemicals and bacterias. They would be very interesting to photograph in IR or UV.

If the electronics ban is enacted, then supposedly one can put the electronics into checked baggage. However, that also makes me uncomfortable given that baggage must be open for inspections. And weren't we all taught that lithium batteries should not go into the cargo areas because of possible fires? Nothing about this makes sense to me.

Here is a possible solution -- and one which I have used myself in the past within the US. It might also work for Sweden-US travels. You send your gear & equipment ahead to the US to be held for arrival. I have used FedEx shipping for this. I packed everything, included a complete inventory, insured the shipment and sent it to my destination city (which happened to be Las Vegas, Nevada) via Fed Ex to be "held for arrival". When I arrived in Las Vegas, I went to the designated FedEx facility and picked up my big box of gear. There are a lot of rules and so forth to investigate if using this method. Most FedEx shipments travel within the pressurized area of FedEx planes, so lithium batteries may be included -- assuming the rules are the same as a couple of years ago.

If this electronics ban is enacted, I expect we will see many solutions like the above. Along with a lot of camera & laptop rental kiosks at airports!! I also expect that there will be a major outcry against such a ban. Should such a ban be enacted, we will open a thread to discuss potential solutions.
Andrea G. Blum
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#2 Alaun

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 17:19

" ...a ban on electronics in hand luggage on flights ... "

Oh dear, only non chipped lenses allowed in the hand luggage ;)
Werner

#3 enricosavazzi

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 20:01

View PostAlaun, on 15 May 2017 - 17:19, said:

" ...a ban on electronics in hand luggage on flights ... "

Oh dear, only non chipped lenses allowed in the hand luggage ;)
And the baggage inspectors will decide which lenses are chipped, and which are not.
-- Enrico Savazzi

#4 enricosavazzi

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 09:59

It has now been reported that the electronics ban in hand baggage on flights from the EU has been for now, temporarily and so far been shelved, to be rediscussed at another time (quite possibly soon), among widespread irritation that information on the reasons for the ban have been discussed by the White House with Russia, but not shared with any of the US allies and affected countries. See e.g.:

http://www.bbc.com/n...europe-39956968
https://www.flightgl...ics-ban-437316/
https://www.ft.com/c...8a-880fb9e7de0a
http://www.traveller...or-now-20170518

If we look at the ban already applied to other countries, we can glean the following. Most likely it will be the same when the electronics ban on flights with the EU will be instated, which some sources seem to think is only a matter of time.
  • The reasons for the ban have not been discussed.
  • Cameras are expressly included in the ban (apparently with no distinction whether digital or film). I assume also lenses are included, although I have no solid information, which probably means no one will bother to check whether chipped or not.
It is mentioned in the media that one of the reasons for the ban, perhaps the main reason, is that terrorist groups have been able to obtain advanced luggage inspection machines, which they can use to test different ways to hide explosives in electronic devices until they find one that is undetectable. There is no official confirmation. It has also not been officially explained how placing a bomb in the baggage hold is safer that carrying it onboard, considering that electronic timers, batteries and detonators are similar or identical to other electronic components and therefore there is no need of a human to press a button to detonate the bomb.
-- Enrico Savazzi

#5 Andrea B.

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 18:28

Well, Enrico, I am sorry our President got mixed up in this. It will take a long time for the Special Prosecutor to find out the truth of of what he has done with regard to Russia and other chicanery. I'm just thankful that the S.P. was finally appointed. And I'm hoping that Trump gets scared and resigns.

(I'm just hoppin' mad about the constant "Breaking News" in the US because of Trump. Other members' Trump opinions may vary from mine and I respect that. Right now I just have a rather dim view of the man. So kindly give me a little space while I get it under control.)

As for the electronics ban itself, who knows how this will play out? I've seen a news story that travel between the US and countries currently under the electronics ban has decreased markedly and revenues are down for many mid-East airlines, who are quite unhappy. So I think there will be strong pressure from the Airline companies to find an alternate solution.

There's not a lot of it that makes sense so far.
Andrea G. Blum
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#6 OlDoinyo

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 19:07

Technically, purely mechanical film cameras (e.g Canon F1 series) would likely be exempt from any such sanction, though TPTB have not made it easy to continue using such gear, and I would expect few to take this route.

The real outcry would come from business travelers who depend on their laptops to be productive while enroute--they and their bosses would be gravely displeased to lose that, and there is no credible technical workaround. I predict stiff resistance to this idea.

#7 enricosavazzi

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 20:23

http://www.wired.co....ights-explained has some more information. Particularly interesting is "What items are banned? The cabin luggage ban covers all electronic items with built-in batteries and plugs, that are larger than 16cm long, 9.3cm wide or 1.5cm deep. This includes laptops, tablets, phones, e-readers and portable DVD players."

This sounds somewhat of a consolation for photographers, since lenses (almost without exception) have no batteries or plugs. When I travel, lenses are 80-90% of the volume of my camera equipment, and easily 80-90% of the economic value. Having to store in my checked in luggage a small Peli case containing one or two Micro 4/3 bodies is still somewhat worrying, but modern cameras are probably less sensitive to impacts than large and/or complex lenses. What if I run into a baggage inspector who interprets the rules of the ban differently, including also lenses?

This also prompts some other interesting questions. For example, what if I carry a laptop without batteries and check in its battery and AC power supply? Do I still have to check in the laptop? What if I check in my camera batteries and chargers? Can I then put the camera bodies without batteries in my carry on?
-- Enrico Savazzi

#8 nfoto

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 07:38

In whatever manner such a possible ban is implemented, a safe assumption is that the bad guys will find a way to eschew it and thus potentially damage air security once again. The airline passengers will be presented to all the extra problems, however. It's a battle one cannot win.

The idea of forwarding gear in advance through a separate carrier, if additional costs are ignored, seems workable. That is, until also carrier freight is compromised.

Maybe sea travel remains the best future option? (except those of us getting violently seasick as this is a fate worse than death).
Bjørn Birna Rørslett

#9 enricosavazzi

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 11:46

Warning: semi-serious post.

Among other alternatives, replacing one eye with a digital camera implant (à la Borg) might be a solution to carry a camera on a flight. Or maybe not, since at least one terrorist attack (in Saudi Arabia a few years ago, I think) was carried out by a terrorist with a bomb possibly implanted in his lower parts. All kinds of medical implants are therefore likely to be banned. Pacemaker carriers and other passengers with battery-operated implants will have to travel by sea. Hip- and knee-joint replacement patients will have to check in their implants before boarding. Self-surgery booths will be provided near security gates.

Once terrorists figure out how to bring down a plane with a plastic fork, I guess we will have to eat our in-flight lunch with our hands, and check in all our possessions larger than a toothpick. Including shoes and eyeglasses, of course. Clothes will be exempted, as long as they are transparent.

More seriously, Pan Am flight 103 (https://en.wikipedia...n_Am_Flight_103) was apparently blown up to pieces in mid-air in 1988 over Lockerbie by a laptop bomb in checked luggage, triggered by timer and pressure sensors. This just goes to show how effective placing laptops in the baggage hold is going to be.

Edited by enricosavazzi, 19 May 2017 - 11:52.

-- Enrico Savazzi

#10 Cadmium

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 08:00

Enrico, Regardless of how you get your equipment there, I am sure you will have a wonderful time in Yellowstone and Montana.
I was there once decades ago, and it was a visually rich landscape, bubbling mud, water... colors. Unfortunately, I was not doing photography during those years.
It will be a fun time for you.

#11 enricosavazzi

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 09:07

Update: plans to extend the electronics ban in cabin baggage to all overseas flights to and from the US:
http://edition.cnn.c...top-ban/?iid=EL
And the above is not the only source of this development, I have seen at least two others.

PS- I am flying this week, so I may be able to at least take my camera stuff to the US. Might need to take a detour through Canada to bring back my stuff.

Edited by enricosavazzi, 29 May 2017 - 09:14.

-- Enrico Savazzi

#12 nfoto

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 10:39

We'll have to keep fingers crossed, then :D
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#13 Andrea B.

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 17:40

You can always ship your gear home, Enrico. It will not be inexpensive, though. In the US, I recommend FedEx.

I am really lookiing forward to your photos from Yellowstone. It is such a lovely park. Simply fascinating geology there.
Andrea G. Blum
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