In more security theater, the Trump Administration has ordered airlines flying from eight relatively friendly Muslim countries to ban passengers from bringing any electronic devices larger than a smartphone into the plane’s cabin. Folks flying from Amman, Kuwait City, Cairo, Istanbul, Jeddah, Riyadh, Casablanca, Doha, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi will have to trust their laptops to the baggage handlers.
Arbitrarily stopping folks from working on their computers on the way to the U.S. on just 50 incoming flights out of some 4,000-plus international flights a day won’t substantively increase our security:
The steps are likely to have limited success in curbing the terrorist threat since people will still be able to fly from the Middle East via hubs such as Frankfurt, where there are no limits on in-cabin devices, to target U.S. services, said Mark Martin, an aviation consultant in Dubai. “When it comes to aviation, there’s a very thin line between paranoia and precaution,” he added [Deena Kamel and Michael Sasso, “Mideast Airlines Braced for Trump Ban on Electronic Devices,” Bloomberg, 2017.03.21].
Requiring passengers to check their laptops won’t stop the clever bomb-maker from rigging a laptop to explode on remote signal from a phone. If anything, the cabin-electronics ban will increase the risk of theft and plane wrecks:
Another aviation-security expert, Jeffrey Price, said there could be downsides to the policy.
“There would be a huge disadvantage to having everyone put their electronics in checked baggage,” said Price, a professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He said thefts from baggage would skyrocket, as when Britain tried a similar ban in 2006, and some laptops have batteries that can catch fire — an event easier to detect in the cabin than the hold [Alicia A. Caldwell and David Koenig, “US Bars Electronic Carry-ons from Mideast, N. Africa Flights,” AP, 2017.03.21].
Chalk another failed policy up to the Trump Administration.