The recently announced ban on electronics items larger in size that a smartphone in airline cabins has resulted in much confusion and angst.
The ban applied by the United States applies for travelers:
- flying into the U.S. from Istanbul; Dubai; Abu Dhabi; Doha, Qatar; Amman; Cairo; Casablanca; Jeddah; Riyadh; and Kuwait City
- flying non-stop to the U.S. on any of the following airlines: EgyptAir; Emirates; Etihad Airways; Kuwait Airways; Qatar Airways; Royal Air Maroc; Royal Jordanian; Saudia (Saudi Arabian Airlines); and Turkish Airlines
The United Kingdom has also initiated a similar ban which applies to travelers:
- flying into the UK from Turkey; Lebanon; Egypt; Saudi Arabia; Jordan; and Tunisia
As a result, many passengers around the world now need to consider leaving devices such as laptop computers, tablets, e-readers, cameras and many other electronic items including children’s games at home, or loading them into suitcases and having them carried as hold luggage.
This restriction has resulted in substantial problems for many travelers who have previously flown without hold luggage, and have carried all of their belongings in the cabin. Many of these people may be flying on budget carriers that don’t include hold luggage items in the ticketing cost. In these cases, they’ll now need to pay more for the trip than previously budgeted, and if the ticket has already been purchased may find themselves penalized in terms of the additional charges relating to purchasing luggage allowance after ticketing.
However, the other source of major confusion (and concern) of travelers relates to the insurance angle.
Up until the announcement of this change in flight restrictions, the vast majority of travel insurers were only prepared to cover the cost of damage or loss of such equipment if it remained in the control of the traveler (i.e. carried on-board the aircraft).
As we speak, travel insurers are looking at this issue and trying to find a work-around for this issue that will suit the needs of the traveler, the airlines and (of course) the underwriter.
We recommend that you really need to shop around for a travel insurer that is prepared to offer cover for such items that will need to travel in the hold. Some have already come to terms with the need for this change, despite the fact that for years the official message has been to refrain from putting valuables into checked baggage to protect against theft and handling damage.
There are a number of recommendations that we also recommend in order to reduce the risk of loss as well as to improve the likelihood of a successful claim should it be needed:
- provide adequate padding for the electronic items in your luggage – to reduce the chance of damage due to rough handling
- ensure that your luggage is securely locked while it is out of your care – but always use TSA approved locks
- make a list or take a photo of the items in your luggage so that you have evidence in case of the need for a claim
- ensure that any infomation on your computer or tablet is fully backed up before arriving at the airport
- try to get to the baggage carousel area before the baggage from your flight arrives, so that you can keep an eye on your belongings as soon as they show up on the carousel