Trump Meets with Airline CEOs then Releases US Electronics Travel Ban
By now if you’re even remotely aware of what’s going on in the world today, you know of the US Electronics Travel Ban imposed by the Trump Administration. The ban is in place to “help protect Americans against the threat of terrorism onboard airplanes.” But what you may not remember is that just over a month ago, Trump met with the CEO’s of United and Delta airlines, two airlines embroiled in a fight with Middle Eastern carriers who are “stealing American jobs by flying their planes to the USA.”
The Electronics Ban
According to “intelligence” an al Qaeda group was trying to perfect a method to carry explosives in the batteries of laptops and other electronic devices. This intelligence lead the administrations to jump the gun and prematurely ban all electronics larger than a cell phone onboard aircraft heading to the USA from majority muslim countries.
The ban requires that airlines from the Middle East and Northern Africa must force passengers to put their larger electronic devices in the cargo hold of the aircraft and not onboard the aircraft itself. Largely missing from this ban are any carriers based out of Europe (excluding Turkey) and the USA.
Trump meets with US Airline CEO’s
Back in February, Trump met with the heads of Delta Airlines and United Airlines, two of the big three American carriers that have been battling with the Middle East carriers Etihad, Emirates, and Qatar Airways, because of their supposed “subsidy driven planes and airlines, driving out American jobs all over the country.” As is par for the course in this administration, nothing could be further from the truth.
What I find more than suspicious is that in a meeting that was supposed to be about the infrastructure of American airports, Delta CEO Ed Bastian was quoted saying this:
At Delta, we plan to hire 25,000 people over the next five years with the support of a level playing field globally.”
Hmm, really now? A level playing field? So, you’ll create 25,000 jobs if and only if Trump steps in to do something to curb the Middle East’s perceived advantage that they have over you? How incredibly interesting, don’t you think? A US Electronics Travel Ban would exclusively benefit the US airlines and their partners, and does so in a way that gets around the messy Open Skies legal debates that have been going on for a long time
This does nothing for security
If an al Qaeda operative wants to get a bomb on an airplane, they’ll find a way. If I have to check my laptop, it now goes under the plane where not every bag is searched thoroughly. Wouldn’t it be easier to have those airlines check laptops individually like most do now? If there is an explosive device in the cargo hold of the airplane and it goes off, you’ve done nothing to protect those onboard the aircraft.
When the shoe bomber attempted to take down an aircraft with shoes, I didn’t have to check my shoes under the plane. We now have to take our shoes off and have them scanned separately. When the underwear bomber wanted to try and make a bomb in his underwear, we didn’t have to go without clothing. We now have to go through a body scanner to make sure that nothing is there that shouldn’t be.
Deciding to put all the electronics underneath the plane gives a false sense of security while doing absolutely nothing to mitigate potential damages.
What’s stopping a terrorist from going to a place like Munich or Paris first and then getting on a US or European carrier. The answer? Nothing. It’s exactly what they were doing before, and this ban does nothing to stop that.
Why no US Airlines?
I know what you’re thinking. This ban doesn’t affect US airlines because they don’t fly directly to these locations. Wrong again. Qatar Airways is a part of Oneworld, so if I’m flying from Doha to London on Qatar, and then heading to Dallas on American Airlines, I’m not any more or less safe than if I was on a direct flight from Doha to Dallas. What it does is make that look a lot more attractive to take those US carriers because now I can take my precious electronic devices with me.
In a veiled attempt to protect Americans, what the Trump administration is doing is creating even more damage (par usual). Foreign carriers coming to the US contribute BILLIONS in taxes, fees, tariffs, and create tens of thousands of jobs.
More questions than answers
One of the dozens of questions that I have is … if this was such an “urgent” need, why are the airlines being given over 4 days to comply?
Another is… who becomes responsible for my electronics if and when they are lost, damaged, or stolen? Current travel insurance applies low limits for replacement of “high value” items, and some exclude them completely. From American Express’ baggage policy:
High-risk Items Benefit
We will pay a maximum benefit of $250, for each Covered Person on a Covered Trip for Loss of high risk items.
High-risk items include, but are not limited to:
2. sporting equipment;
3. photographic or electronic equipment; and
4. computers and audio/visual equipment.
Yup, you read that right. Lose that computer in your luggage? I hope $250 covers the new one for you. Otherwise, you’re hosed.
Foreign Airport Security
What’s wrong with security at some of these airports? Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports are among, if not the most, advanced and secure airports in the world. I’d trust the security at Dubai airport over that of small town American one any day. Don’t forget that Abu Dhabi even has a pre clearance facility, so you’re already “in the USA” by the time you get onboard!
I think the Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project said it best. “Given the administration’s already poor track record, this measure sends another signal of discriminatory targeting.”
This can only end badly. It certainly isn’t good for business including foreign driven business into the USA and is a bad sign for regular Americans who want to enjoy their vacations and time off without fear of losing thousands of dollars of equipment, their memories, and most importantly, their freedom.