Travel Technology

Here’s How Airlines Handled The Electronics Ban On Day One

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The electronics ban for US-bound flights officially went into effect for many airlines yesterday, March 25, 2017. Over the past several days we’ve learned how airlines will be dealing with the ban, including Emirates, Etihad, and Turkish.

Based on their policies, Emirates and Turkish seem to be doing the best job, as they’re allowing passengers to check their electronics at the gate for their US-bound flights, in order to minimize the disruption. This way people don’t have to check their electronics at their point of origin, and can also use electronics at the airport before boarding starts.

So while the policies of Emirates and Turkish sound good in theory (well, at least as good as something like this is going to get), how did it work in practice at the airport?

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Etihad’s Puzzling Approach To The Electronics Ban

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With the US electronics ban about to be implemented, airlines are outlining their policies for how they’re going to deal with this. Both Emirates and Turkish have announced that they’ll let passengers take their electronics all the way to the gate, and will then allow passengers to check them there. They’ll be securely packaged, and upon arrival in the US they’ll separately be brought out to passengers.

I appreciate the effort they’re putting into the system. While it doesn’t totally solve the problems the electronics ban causes, at least I feel they’re doing what they can to minimize the risk of electronics being stolen or damaged, and are also minimizing how long passengers will be separated from them.

Well, now Etihad has announced their electronics ban policy, and it’s… confusing.

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Emirates Is Introducing A Laptop And Tablet Handling Service For US Flights

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With the US having implemented an electronics ban for passengers traveling nonstop to the US from Amman, Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Casablanca, Dubai, Doha, Istanbul, Jeddah, Kuwait City, and Riyadh, it’ll be interesting to see the ways in which airlines adapt to the situation. This potentially has a huge impact on the demand for travel on these airlines, as checking electronics is not only a huge waste of time (in terms of lost productivity, waiting at baggage claim, etc.), but comes with the risk of electronics being damaged or stolen.

With that in mind, Emirates is the first airline to announce a somewhat creative solution to this situation. Emirates is introducing a service that enables passengers to use their laptops and tablets until just before they board their US-bound flight. At the gate there will be security staff who will carefully package your electronics in boxes before boarding, and then you can collect them on arrival.

What I’m not sure about is:

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What Insurance Covers Checked Electronics?

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Yesterday we learned about a new electronics ban for certain flights to the United States. Later in the day the United Kingdom announced a similar (yet very different) policy for flights to the UK.

While I’m not going to get into all the ramifications here, the gist of it is that travelers are going to have to choose between connecting elsewhere or risking damage and theft of their personal electronics.

Reader Mike summed it up nicely:

“My bet is there will be lots of $2,000 insurance claims for Apple laptops forced to endure the cargo experience. Whoever Chase, et al, use for travel insurance is going to get very busy.”

That’s a great point, but it’s much more complicated than that. Not all policies necessarily cover checked electronics, and many have strict dollar limits. So I figured it would help to go through the various options for insuring your gadgets when traveling.

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WHOA: UK To Implement A DIFFERENT Electronics Ban

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A few hours ago it was rumored that the UK was also considering an in-flight electronics ban.

As we’ve written about extensively, the U.S. has announced a ban on electronics for flights originating in the Middle East and Africa. The ban applies for flights originating in Amman, Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Casablanca, Dubai, Doha, Istanbul, Jeddah, Kuwait City, and Riyadh. Passengers on nonstop flights originating from those cities to the U.S. need to check all electronics into the cargo hold, with the exception of cell phones and medical devices.

SkyNews is reporting that the UK government is indeed implementing new restrictions, though the details (and countries included) are rather different from the US directive.

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New Details On Nonsensical Electronics Ban

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To catch everyone up, yesterday Ben noted a Royal Jordanian announcement that electronic devices would be banned from passenger cabins on U.S.-bound flights effective March 21st. This was quickly followed by rumors that this wasn’t just Royal Jordanian acting on a whim, but rather a new directive being issued by U.S. authorities, though the details were still fuzzy.

Late last night the Associated Press reported the electronics ban will apply to flights from Amman, Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Casablanca, Dubai, Doha, Istanbul, Jeddah, Kuwait City, and Riyadh. Those are nearly all the major airports in the Middle East and Northern Africa, and are hubs for the national airlines of each respective country. The impacted airlines are:

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It Looks Like A Widespread In-Flight Electronics Ban Is About To Be Implemented…

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Oh my, this is about to get interesting…

A couple of hours ago, Royal Jordanian announced that they are banning electronics from the cabins of their flights to/from the U.S. With the exception of cell phones and medical devices, all other electronics need to be checked in the cargo hold.

At first I assumed they horribly misinterpreted some directive, or something. To me it seems highly illogical to want passengers to check electronics. If there’s some threat of terrorism or a safety concern, then I didn’t really understand how requiring passengers to check electronics would help.

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How Many Devices Should Be Included With “Free” Hotel Wifi?

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Over the past several years we’ve seen hotels globally make great strides when it comes to free wifi. I remember when most hotel loyalty programs didn’t even offer free wifi to elite members, let alone to other guests.

Meanwhile nowadays the major hotel chains offer free wifi to virtually all guests who book directly with them. What I find interesting, however, is that most hotel programs don’t clarify in their terms how many devices are included with that “free wifi,” which seems like something they’d standardize.

In other words, is a hotel staying true to the terms & conditions if they offer free wifi on just one device? Technically yes, I suppose, though perhaps not in spirit.

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My New Favorite Trip Planning Tool

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When it comes to trip planning, there are a variety of planning and organization apps out there. In my experience, most of them have some kind of major deal-breaker, so choosing a tool ends up being a very personal decision.

While I’ve tried an assortment of planning tools over the years, none really fit my needs. Most seem to be either too automated, or require too much manual sorting, so I’d sorta given up. I recently came across a new-to-me tool called Travefy which I really like.

I’ve used Travefy for two big trips now — my New Years trip to Jordan (trip report coming next I think), and a big European trip with my mom for her birthday (trip report coming maybe). It’s not perfect, but I’ve found it to be pretty useful, and think some of y’all might enjoy using it as well.

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Great Travel Savings & Bonus Gift Cards With Upside

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I’ve written previously about Upside, a new travel tool that aims to disrupt the business travel market by incentivizing travelers to choose options that save their companies money.

Now that the public version is live, I figured I’d test a few itineraries and see what kind of deals Upside can offer. My husband has a couple of work trips coming up, and since his trips fit the more “typical” style of business travel than mine, it seemed like a great real-life test.

As a reminder, OMAAT readers will get a guaranteed $200 in gift cards on all purchases until February 28th of this year, which is a pretty fantastic deal. You don’t have to travel by then, but the 28th will be the last day to book with the $200 guarantee. Just use the promo code “OMAAT” when making your booking.

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What Is A VPN And Why Do You Need One?

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Yesterday Ben wrote about how China’s government may start cracking down on VPN services, which may have caused you to wonder “What the heck is a VPN, and what does it have to do with travel?”

What it boils down to is that no public internet connection is inherently safe or secure. Sure, you might be taking extra precautions on your home network, or using firewalls on your devices, though in my experience most people aren’t.

Whenever you’re using a public connection you’re exposed to flaws in the network, and are a bit at the mercy of anyone using that same network. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re at a coffee shop, a hotel, or on an airplane.

That’s where a VPN (or Virtual Private Network) comes in. It helps protect your data, and is so inexpensive and easy to use that there’s really no reason not to.

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China’s Government May Soon Crack Down On VPNs

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If you’ve traveled to China you’ve probably faced the “great firewall,” where access to many websites is blocked. This includes Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Fortunately getting around these blocks is quite easy using a VPN — Tiffany wrote a post about exactly this a while back.

A VPN (virtual private network) allows you to connect to the internet using another network, so it looks like you’re accessing the internet from somewhere else. This allows you to access websites that are typically blocked in China.

VPN use is extremely common China, to the point that I suspect most millennials in major Chinese cities use them. Clearly the government is aware of this, though they haven’t done that much to crack down on usage.

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AT&T Gets Competitive With International Data — FINALLY!

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AT&T has finally added a somewhat competitive international data plan, which is long overdue.

On Friday we’ll see the introduction of the AT&T International Day Pass, where you can talk and text all you want, and use your data plan in over 100 countries. The cost will per $10 per day per device for any 24 hour period.

Here’s how AT&T describes the International Day Pass:

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Dear Google, Please Save Us From Basic Economy

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Basic economy fares are upon us.

Delta has been selling these wretched fares for a few years now, but has recently rolled them out to more and more markets. Then United unveiled the details of their punitive offering last fall and American came out with their slightly-better-than-awful version last week.

I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan. Can you tell?

Sure, I get it. The legacy carriers are facing stiff competition from the ultra-low-cost carriers and feel they need to do this to compete. But guess what? They, or at least United and Delta, tried operating a low-cost-carry subsidiary within the framework of a mainline carrier before. I watched that movie — I think it was called Song and Ted’s Miserable Adventure — and we all know how it turned out.

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