Opinion: A laptop ban on planes will make flying even more like going to prison

Soon, you may have to pack away that laptop before boarding a flight in Europe bound for the U.S.
Soon, you may have to pack away that laptop before boarding a flight in Europe bound for the U.S.
(Anwar Amro / AFP/Getty Images)

Just when you thought flying on commercial airliners couldn’t get any more miserable, consider this: you may be banned from bringing your laptop computer onboard a flight from Europe to the U.S. Even your iPad or other tablet may be banned.

Yes, you read that right — no electronic device to soothe your frayed nerves, no balm for the boredom of the hours-long flight, no distraction from the fact that you’re sitting next to a guy eating a smelly banana. (I find banana eating so pungently offensive that I would ban that in confined public spaces. But I digress…)

Officials of the Department of Homeland Security met Thursday morning with Senate leaders to discuss this proposal for electronic devices. An afternoon meeting with airline industry representatives was also on their schedule. The idea is to keep us safe from terrorists trying to smuggle explosives in electronic devices.

This ban is already in effect on flights from eight Middle Eastern and African countries to the U.S. and Britain. You could still stow your devices in checked baggage. (Apparently, it’s more difficult to remotely detonate a bomb in an electronic device in a cargo hold.)


So, let’s tally up the rules so far: no water bottles brought from home; no liquids more than 3 ounces in your carry-on; no shoes or belt going through security; hold your arms up in the body scanner.

Soon, getting on a plane will be like going to prison. You’ll be strip-searched and issued a terrorism-cleared orange jumpsuit to wear on the plane. (Hope you didn’t care about keeping those clothes you wore to the airport.) In fact, being on a plane is already a little like prison — fights breaking out in the aisle, cops dragging people off, a flight crew member telling you if you don’t get off the plane, authorities will put your kids in foster care.

So if Department of Homeland Security officials (and, by the way, do they ever fly coach?) think airline passengers aren’t ornery enough, try taking their laptops away. And this is not like the water bottle rule. You can ditch your water bottle before going through security and then buy another one near the gate. You can’t buy another computer near the gate. (Actually, you probably can buy one out of those electronic device vending machines, but that’s a pretty extravagant expense on your way to the already expensive flight.)

Obviously, I support keeping us safe from terrorists. And, of course, you can bring magazines and books along to read on your flight. Still, before Homeland Security issues another edict to passengers, maybe they should issue one to those airline executives they’re meeting with: for the sake of everyone’s sanity, make your airplanes more comfortable to fly.

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