If you are currently flying into the United States from a foreign destination, you may want to consider leaving as many of your gadgets as possible behind, if not cutting down completely on all of your luggage to save time and hassles at the airport.
When Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to ignite an explosive device on a Northwestern flight from the Amsterdam to Detroit, Michigan on Christmas day, he immediately set in a motion a whole new set of directives from Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Authority (TSA) that are enough to make any gadget aficionado weep with sadness. Even though his father, Umaru Abdul Mutallab, attempted to warn the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria that he suspected his son was up to something, and Umar was subsequently put on a watch list, security agencies have opted to impose new rules on all travelers to err on the side of caution.
Although Homeland Security and the TSA have not yet made any official statement about the exact details of the rules, Air Canada came the closest to saying anything official and in a manner that the public can understand:
New rules imposed by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration also limit on-board activities by customers and crew in U.S. airspace that may adversely impact on-board service. Among other things, during the final hour of flight customers must remain seated, will not be allowed to access carry-on baggage, or have personal belongings or other items on their laps.
Essentially this means that you can not have a laptop out, no portable DVD player, iPods will need to be stowed before that last hour and so on and so forth.
As some airports are now requiring extra scanning of carry-on luggage, as well as two pat downs that occur at the security checkpoint and another at the actual gate, most airlines are restricting you to only one piece of carry-on luggage. Going even further than that, Transport Canada, the government agency responsible for transportation safety in Canada, has now banned carry-on luggage in general from flights originating in that country with destinations in the United States. There are some exceptions to the rule: medication or medical devices, small purses, cameras, coats, items for care of infants, laptop computers, crutches, canes, walkers, containers carrying life sustaining items, a special needs item, musical instruments, or diplomatic or consular bags.
The problem with any of this is even if your a U.S. resident, if you travel outside of the United States, on your return flight you will be subject to these new regulations. So while your iPod may have been okay on the flight from Chicago to Kazakhstan, you may not have as much luck with it on the way home.
The simple solution, though it pains me to say it, is to cut the number of gadgets you travel with internationally. While you may be asking how you will entertain yourself, there are these things called “books” … they’re printed on paper … people used to read them. You may want to give them a try.
So what say you, have the regulations gone too far? Will you cut the amount of gadgets you travel with if you’re leaving the United States?