The dumb, stupid electronics ban that focuses on the wrong airports and does absolutely nothing to improve aviation safety is hurting passenger bookings on Qatar Airways flights to the U.S.
- The U.S. and U.K. are the only countries banning large electronics in the passenger cabin, and cannot even agree on which countries to apply it to.
- The U.S. bans electronics from Abu Dhabi, where the U.S. imposes its own secondary screening that is so thorough we even allow people to clear passport control there and get off the plane in the U.S. as though landing from a domestic flight.
- Emirates flights from Dubai to the U.S. don’t allow large electronics, but Dubai – Athens – New York and Dubai – Milan – New York do allow such electronics. Pakistan International Airlines flights to the U.S. via Manchester, U.K. allows electronics.
- Flights from Lagos, Nigeria – home to Boko Haram – to the U.S. allow use of electronics. Those flights are operated by a U.S. airline, Delta.
- Lithium ion batteries are sent to the cargo hold. Crews are trained to deal with batteries catching fire in the cabin, not checked baggage.
- While the US claims they’ve targeted airports that don’t have the security ‘of European airports’ the ban doesn’t apply to non-stop flights from Fuzhou and Jinan, China or from Cape Verde in Africa.
- Passengers can fly Dubai – Baku, Azerbaijan – New York JFK with electronics in the cabin. Apparently terrorists only take non-stop flights (which of course, from 9/11, we know not to be the case).
Terrorists Can Circumvent the Laptop Ban by Flying Dubai – Baku – New York JFK instead of Emirates Non-stop, copyright: nordroden / 123RF Stock Photo
IATA is the world association of airlines and, along with the International Civil Aviation Organization, a standards-setting body. Its cief (and former Air France CEO) calls for an end to the unacceptable electronics ban.
However if the U.S. (and to a lesser extent U.K.) do not roll back these restrictions — which have been interpreted to even include noise cancelling headphones (since they have batteries and are larger than a standard cell phone) and electric toothbrushes — Akbar al Baker the CEO of Qatar thinks he knows what comes next:
“If [Trump] continues this way, at the end of the day you will have people sitting in the airplane with underwear and nothing [else] on them,” Al Baker told CNNMoney’s Emerging Markets Editor John Defterios.
He thinks we have the technology to detect actual threats, but in any case playing whack-a-mole with threats just pushes determined terrorists to focus on other airports or other means to accomplish their goals.
Baker, of course, has been known to be friendly with President Donald Trump for many years.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker with Donald and Melania Trump in 2007, via Doha News