I haven’t addressed the rumors of a laptop ban on all flights out of the European Union, but now I will: I knew it would not happen.
Sure, easy for me to say it now that EU and United States have decided to take it “off the table” for now, but let me explain.
The laptop ban from predominantly Muslim countries was easier to defend. Although it inconvenienced business travel, it left several viable options to reach the USA, namely connecting through Europe or Asia.
But the proposed expansion of the in-flight electronics ban would have a far greater impact on global business travel:
The proposed electronics ban would create logistical chaos on the world’s busiest air travel corridor — as many as 65 million people a year travel between Europe and North America on nearly 400 daily flights, many of them business travelers who rely on the devices to work during flight.
Let’s assume the intelligence is accurate. Even so, it must carefully be weighed against the cost of ban: the classic cost/benefit analysis.
Yes, an electronics ban would likely have kept us (marginally) safer [some disagree]. But so would requiring everyone to be naked onboard. Then we’d certainly know if someone was hiding a bomb under their clothes…
Perfect security is impossible. But near-perfect security is: it usually is found in totalitarian states. My point is not to link the US or EU governments to totalitarianism. Quite the opposite, I believe they examined the intelligence, recognized a threat, but still saw a great disruption in a ban than without one.
I believe it will take something dramatic like a terrorist attack or attempted attack to actually usher in a wider electronics ban. We all hope it certainly never comes to that and we should all be happy today that we did not let the terrorists win. Remember, the point of terrorism is not just to kill and maim. On the contrary, a fundamental goal of terrorism is to disrupt and change daily life through the fostering of fear and reactionary public policy. I am quite pleased that our governments resisted the urge to succumb to fear, for the downside of an electronics ban was significant.