Australia considers inflight laptop, tablet ban for airlines

By Chris Chamberlin, May 16 2017

Australian travellers may soon be banned from bringing large electronic devices such as laptops and tablets into the cabin aboard certain international flights, mirroring similar bans already in place by the United States and the United Kingdom on selected routes.

"We are looking at it very closely," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told ABC News today.

"We are taking into account all of the information and advice we're receiving internationally and we're working very closely with our partners. In due course, any announcements will be made formally though the Transport Minister," Turnbull added.

Bans currently in place by the USA and the UK prohibit devices larger than a smartphone – including laptops, tablets, headphones, cameras and DVD players – from being brought into the passenger cabin on certain flights from the Middle East and Africa, with similar bans also tipped for Europe-USA flights.

Instead, these gadgets must be placed into travellers' checked baggage or deposited at boarding gates and returned by the airline after the flight, in what can be a massive blow to the onboard productivity of business travellers, particularly on long international journeys.

It also makes travel difficult for those carrying commercially sensitive or classified information, with many corporate and government policies prohibiting devices which carry or have access to such data from being left unattended and placed into airline checked baggage.

Read: How Australian travellers are affected by the USA, UK laptop bans

Some airlines already subject to the USA’s bans have begun loaning their own large electronic gadgets to business class and first class flyers for use in the air, with Etihad Airways offering iPads and Qatar Airways loaning out laptops to business travellers.

Passengers can then connect to free inflight Internet to get their work done or can bring their own USB storage device aboard to save or retrieve their work documents.

Security was tightened earlier this year on flights from Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dubai to Australia with added 'explosive trace detection' measures in force at boarding gates in lieu of an all-out ban on laptops and the like.

ChrisCh
ChrisCh

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Covo95

Covo95

30 Jul 2015

Total posts 113

it would increase the risk of accidents as lithium ion batteries are fire hazards, which could bring a plane down. Also increases the risks of laptops being stolen. 

Hewnix

Hewnix

11 Dec 2016

Total posts 13

Turnbull, the ultimate​ lapdog fool. Shame.

russell

russell

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2011

Total posts 323

Not my headphones as well.....We will all be flying naked soon enough.

elchriss0

elchriss0

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 578

Can still conceal explisives under skin...just remove your skin and place in suitcase

desafinado74

desafinado74

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

02 Dec 2016

Total posts 23

And i thought Abbott was bad ! Oh my god, what a shocking idea! Doesn't the government have better things to worry about?!

Packetman21

Packetman21

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Jul 2016

Total posts 108

In my eyes, this is completely unnecessary. It is okay to be cautious, but this is plain stupid. All they need to do is tighten the security screening process and making sure there are nothing suspicious is the laptops, tablets etc! Unless they give us a proper reason for this, (security can find this out anyway..) I am not convinced and not for it.

terryj

terryj

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Sep 2016

Total posts 9

More theatrics in the name of "security" just like the on-going farce of not being able to bring liquids on international flights into Australia. If a ban on electronics was implemented then it would be a farce if it isn't applied to domestic flights too.

lm1

lm1

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Feb 2015

Total posts 28

But all of these devices are being X-ray scanned before being allowed on board... We've all watched the X-ray screen and seen the insides of our bits and pieces. How can that possibly be insufficient to spot an explosive device? 

peteshep

peteshep

15 Feb 2013

Total posts 134

This annoys me for two reasons, and they're nothing to do with not having a laptop or iPad:

1. Either ban on all flights, international AND domestic, or not at all (same goes for liquids and all the other rules that differ from DOM to INT), and

2. There is technology available today that can screen for explosives (including liquids) so I don't know why this cannot just be done as 100% check on all passengers.

undertheradar Banned

undertheradar Banned

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 662

Of course will NEVER apply to commercial domestic flying. Too many pollies fly domestic, and we can't p**s them off!! And I'm sure their commercial international flights will allow them to make a claim (taxpayers money of course) for 'inconvenience suffered'. lol. You get the general gist of my point of view.

Ryan K

Ryan K

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 291

This will be horrible news for those airlines that are changing IFE options to "bring your own device."

Simon852

Simon852

04 May 2016

Total posts 3

@IM1 I agree, How come x ray machines are suddenly redundant? 

DBOC

DBOC

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 May 2017

Total posts 4

They're not redundant. I suspect the crooks are just getting smarter. A trained operator will be limited to the size of the 'device' (i.e. bomb) they're likely to be able to spot on a scanning machine. 

To many of us it seems to make no difference whether a laptop is scanned in your luggage or as carry on - and that's true, however, I suspect the anticipated threat here is an assembly threat, meaning that multiple people could carry parts small enough to slip through security, then assemble those mid-flight to pose the threat. 


It's a huge pain in the proverbial, but still preferable to being blown out of the sky by a bunch of looneys. 

TheRealBabushka

TheRealBabushka

21 Apr 2012

Total posts 3034

If anyone is a sci-fi nerd like me, will appreciate the reference to the Psi Corps from Babylon 5. How their services would be welcomed right now!

johnnypc67

johnnypc67

28 Nov 2012

Total posts 90

Timely, with direct flights from Australia to Europe starting soon 

flychrisfly

flychrisfly

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Jun 2011

Total posts 75

Not sure this makes much sense for Oz, we have no direct flights from any of the 'bad' countries (apart from the US!) do we?

Too Technical

Too Technical

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Oct 2016

Total posts 40

This is where airlines can use their IFE systems as web browsers/computers, Airlines provide mouse and keyboard then install web browsers on the IFE system. You could use services such as onedrive to get your work done. (and airlines can make millions of dollars off wifi fees, it's a win, win for everyone)

Himeno

Himeno

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 913

No doubt the idiots in both major parties will ignore the people they claim to work for about this, just like with the body scanners.

Any risk any intel about this so called threat is much much less then the risk of inaccessable in flight battery fires.

highflyer

highflyer

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2012

Total posts 296

So remind me, why bother with x-ray screening at airports anymore.  Just ban all carry on.

lind26

lind26

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 269

Yes, why can't screening pick up anything in a suspect laptop?

briang

briang

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Mar 2015

Total posts 13

I'm still at a loss as to why we need to remove laptops from the bags. I always thought an xray could look thro multi layers

Enad67

Enad67

17 May 2017

Total posts 1

This is crazy...they can detect the atmosphere composition in a planet 50000 light years away...but they can't  keep us safe in the air by being able to detect explosives in a device a few inches from their face despite all these fees we now pay for body scanners..xray machines and explosive  detectors..instead they ban all electronic devices...i can live with out my laptop...but my Bose noise canceling headphones ....no way!!!!...its a joke..and just shows you hiw unsophisticated out airport security really is!!!!!

BrisbanePE

BrisbanePE

02 Dec 2016

Total posts 30

Banning electronics on planes in case there is a bomb is like banning vehicles from city centres in case there is a lone-wolf looney.

icanfly

icanfly

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Jul 2014

Total posts 7

And a lot of work will not be able to be done on loan laptops especially when Internet is made available on flights and customers want to VPN into their corporate network. The loan laptops won't be able to do this unless also carry around the VPN installer and certs which I doubt a loan laptop will let you do anyway. And I imagine there will be a of other restrictions where you can't just carry your work on a USB as all the stuff you need is on a corporate laptop

henry_168

henry_168

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 May 2016

Total posts 33

This is seriously disturbing news on banning electronics on planes from Australia.  We all know that we are not allowed to store batteries and electrical devices in our checked in luggage due to airline regulations, but to hand carry them.  How would you expect business travelers to sit on a long haul flight for over 8 - 16 hours while not working on their laptops for business related matters?  And we all should keep everything on a usb stick, fly now, once on ground then to continue working?  What if your tv on your seat is malfunction, then you will be travelling in hell with no entertainment for the entire flight (better be a red-eye flight!!!  At least to sleep through the entire flight)  This is ridiculous!

PG1

PG1

17 May 2017

Total posts 6

I remember the days you had to turn on your laptop to "prove" it was kosher. It may slow things down through security but for mine, as a fairly frequent "carry-on only" traveller, I don't seem to have an option, with no check-in bag to throw my laptop into...........sigh !

CP

CP

SilkAir - KrisFlyer

28 Mar 2017

Total posts 13

@PG1 - I would be content to spend further time in a security line to prove my laptop or tablet as 'legitimate'.  This seems like an appropriate solution and should be promoted as a sensible precaution.

cssaus

cssaus

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

29 Jan 2011

Total posts 152

Implementing something like a "trusted traveller" program where business-types could sign up and be vetted ought to be considered.

PG1

PG1

17 May 2017

Total posts 6

Like TSA Precheck in the US

cssaus

cssaus

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

29 Jan 2011

Total posts 152

It might need to be a little tighter but as dwrj just posted, a device vetting processing could be deployed  possibly with a tamper-proof security tag being affixed to the device.

dwrj

dwrj

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

18 May 2016

Total posts 6

If the risk is real, then surely there is a way to vet a laptop / iPad to ensure it is safe? Proving a laptop/iPad vetting service in the lounges where they have a premium (separate) entry to flight-side would be a great option. I'd happily pay an extra $10-20 in the lounge to get a laptop vetted before an international flight . You would quickly cover the cost of vetting through the volume that would likely use the service. Even if it had to stay sealed in a tamper-proof bag only to be opened mid-air.  There has to be a more sensible approach than a blanket ban.

Also, there should clearly be a lower risk with a smaller volume device (iPad / MS Surface / tablet) than a laptop with a large battery.  Applying the same treatment for the higher risk items to lower risk simply does not make sense.

GigiPk

GigiPk

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Mar 2016

Total posts 27

My concern is that I will be in the US at end of month with electronic devices in hand, what happens then?? Suicide bombers are very real & clearly their motives are far beyond the intellect of an Australian to understand. Standing in the cattle line in any US port, then attempting to convince Security Officer/s that my 'electronic devices' are legitimate, is an exercise in futility & is inhuman! 

Polbathic

Polbathic

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

15 Jul 2016

Total posts 13

The USA already have a trusted traveller scheme administered by the TSA. It would be easy enough to implement here. Other than the comment about assembling bits and pieces together from laptops or other electronic devices to make a bomb like device I'm not sure us not having them in the cabin rather than down below makes any difference. Not sure what Trump said to the Ruskis on this topic but I wouldn't mind having some justification put out there. It's really so much secret squirrel claptrap in my humble opinion, probably designed to line someone's pockets or make security agencies look like wankers (and you may interpret the latter how you will!). 

quick_dry

quick_dry

21 Dec 2012

Total posts 26

Is ISIS only able to afford single plane tickets at a time? (Maybe they're in an FF program that only allows you to buy for yourself? Hopefully they never switch to housing points in Amex rewards or somewhere that can do the SPG shuffle, the western world will never be the same)

Surely no matter how small you make the allowable items, you could just all combine items once on board?

Or, as the CEO of Qatar said, they could just fly from an unrestricted airport and bring laptop sized things onboard.

Now, I'm just some internet commenter, but surely my revelations won't be blowing the minds of the people who actual plan out these attacks we're supposedly being protected from. Surely the manifesto doesn't explicitly say "there shall be only 1 carrier of the device". 

worldwanderer

worldwanderer

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Jan 2017

Total posts 68

If I can't.have my laptop/surface pro in the cabin and I'm banned from having a device in my checked luggage with a lithium battery (non-removable in surface pro/iPad - then effectively am I banned from taking my device overseas?

Does this mean low cost carriers are now about to make a mint from travellers who, even tho they only have a lightweight  backpack with overnight essentials and an iPad in it, will be forced to pay for checked luggage?

Dolly

Dolly

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

24 Jan 2013

Total posts 10

And  here was me thinking it was just Trump being his usual irrational overreacting self.  It is bad enough being treated like scum when you go through airport security, now we get treated like murdering scum on board.

carryononly

carryononly

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 May 2017

Total posts 1

BA lost my checked in luggage three times. Now I travel only with carry on. I need to have my laptop with me.
This security madness went too far. In some airports the liquids are not checked in other airports even the size of the plastic bag is an issue. Soon we are going to board the plane naked after having a full body CT scan, gastroscopy, colonoscopy etc. to make sure we are not hiding bombs in our body cavities…

holden

holden

06 Dec 2014

Total posts 21

I'm a sports shooter. Every time I go through the screening process at Perth I get sent to the guys with the wand. I soon realised that the sensors in the gates are picking up minute traces of gunpowder on my body and clothes. To test the system I wore clothes that had never been on the range but I still got pulled aside. Apparently GSR, even after showering, stays on your body for a while. These gates are picking up miniscule amounts.

On a recent trip to the UK I got a very thorough screening at Heathrow, even though I hadn't used a firearm in some time. I asked the guy with the wand if I tested positive as I went through the gate and he said yes. These gates certainly do their job both in the UK and in Australia. I wasn't stopped in Dubai and maybe that's where the problem lies.

Dee Thom

Dee Thom

22 Jun 2016

Total posts 16

Hey people, a simple solution is to fly via Singapore, Hong Kong or Indonesia, direct to U.K. Or Europe. You don't need to fly through the Arab Areas, a lot more options are open to the business flyers.

henry_168

henry_168

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 May 2016

Total posts 33

It applies to all flights into and out of Australia, regardless of which airlines!  It doesn't matter which sector you are flying from or to.

Jedinak K

Jedinak K

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Sep 2012

Total posts 211

Stupid and utterly pointless. They place all the lithium ion batteries in the cargo hold, what makes them think terrorists won't use that to their advantage? 

Dee Thom

Dee Thom

22 Jun 2016

Total posts 16

 @Henry_168, The article states "on certain international airline flights", read Middle East Carriers!

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