A Quick Guide To The New Airline Laptop Rules

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4 min read

Pack my laptop, where?!

You’ve got your work trip packing routine down to ten minutes flat? You rock – I’d feel smug too.
Alas. Now, you’re going to need to prepare for a strategic re-shuffle. If you’re flying from Africa or the Middle East, you’re going to need to re-master your suitcase-packing Tetris technique and switch out those Louboutins for the laptop.
Here’s a quick guide to everything you need to know about the new restrictions on carry-on electronic devices.
I need to pack my laptop, where?!

You’re set. You’ve whittled down your carry-on liquids to a 1L zip lock bag filled with 100ml or smaller bottles. You keep spare lithium batteries in your carry-on and you steer clear of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7.

Just when you thought your packing proficiency had peaked, along comes a new rule to throw you off your game. If you’re flying from the Middle East and North Africa to the United States and United Kingdom don’t expect to be doing any work: devices larger than a cellphone are now banned in the cabin.

For your employer, 12 hours at zero productivity isn’t great news. For you, it’s a perfect opportunity to treat yo’ self. #selfcare

Flight from which airports and countries?

The US rules apply to flights from a restricted list of airports to the US, while the UK rules apply to flights from six countries. Check below to see if your country/airport and airline are affected:

Pack my laptop
Pack my laptop, where?!
Here’s what you can and can’t bring onto your flight…
Can bring:

United States

  • cellphones

United Kingdom

Devices smaller than 16.0cm x 9.3cm x 1.5cm which may include:

  • phones
  • tablets
  • e-readers
  • accessories (e.g. keyboards, power supplies/batteries, transformers, external hard drives)
Can’t bring:

United States

  • laptops
  • tablets
  • e-readers
  • cameras
  • portable DVD players
  • electronic games larger than a smartphone
  • travel printers/scanners

United Kingdom

Devices larger than 16.0cm x 9.3cm x 1.5cm:
  • phones
  • laptops
  • tablets e-readers
  • accessories (e.g. keyboards, power supplies/batteries, transformers, external hard drives)
What are your options?

Leave your electronics at home

Could you get by without your laptop? Your smartphone has you covered for internet and email and you could store any documents you’ll need on the Cloud or carry them with you on a data stick. If you need a computer at your destination, check for options to hot-desk, or use a hotel business center or internet café.

Check in your electronics

The three main considerations are protecting your expensive electronics from damage or theft, and avoiding damage to the lithium batteries. So, use a fitted laptop or camera bag, and pack it in the middle of your suitcase padded with clothing. To guard against theft, consider locking your luggage, and shrink wrapping it at the airport prior to check in. Keep lithium batteries installed in your devices and protect the device from accidental activation by securing the on/off switch.

Change your flight

The ban only applies to flights direct to the US/UK from the airports listed above. As Audrey Hepburn says, “Paris is always a good idea”, so why not break your journey in Europe? Our oui, mon ami.

The downside: expect delays

If you do travel on an affected flight, expect delays on departure as some passengers will only learn of the restrictions at check-in/security screening. On arrival, it may take longer than usual for luggage to be screened before being returned to passengers.

The upside: hello box-set binge

You still have your smartphone, so prepare for the flight by loading your e-books onto your phone via the Amazon Kindle app or downloading a great podcast such as Chat 10 Looks 3, The Dollop, Freakonimics Radio, The Berlin Patient or My Dad Wrote A Porno. If switching out of work-mode gets your mind a wanderin’ why not calm it with a little meditation via the Headspace app? Or put your phone away and try your hand at some good ol’ fashioned dialogue with the guy to your left. Maybe even read a novel (with real pages). Even better: become BFFs with the inflight entertainment system. Enjoy back-to-back movies, or binge-watch some TV, here’s my wish list: Big Little Lies, Black Mirror, Billions, Catastrophe and Westworld.

Nina x

What’s number one on your binge-watch list? Go ahead and share in the comments below. Then head over to the Iris Lillian Squad to chat with me and other businesswomen about how we plan to tackle our next 12 hour flight sans laptop.
Meet Nina

Nina is a blogger who chronicles the travel and ‘fish out of water’ experienc​​es of an Australian expatriate over at ninamcgrath.com. Her first expat experience involved living in London and travelling extensively around Europe. She is now in the second leg of her expat tour, living in Hong Kong and travelling around Asia. Nina is also the author of Cash Cow, a woman’s fiction novel about working as a nanny for an affluent Sydney family. Cash Cow is a peek into the private lives of the rich and heinous, showing how they treat their own offspring and the hired help.

Pack my laptop, where?!

The above details are accurate as at 21 March 2017 – please check the packing requirements with your airline before flying.

Pack my laptop, where?!

5 Comments
  1. Debra says

    A very informative update. I guess it’s just a matter of time before these bans will apply to most flights into the US and UK. Podcasts are a great idea and I love the movie binge plan.

    1. Iris Lillian says

      Hey Debra, what would be your movie-binge line up?

  2. Nooree Moola says

    Emirates allows you to keep your laptop and electronics right up until the boarding lounge. They then bubble wrap them and place them in a small box, the same type as they use for duty-free products on Australia-bound flights. You collect them from the other side from an office (not from the baggage carousel). So there’s less of a concern that your laptop will be stolen/lost/broken in your suitcase. Emirates and Qatar also offer loan laptops on board, you just need to load your work onto a USB and carry it with you. Remarkably, the fear of Middle Eastern-originating laptops dissipates once you arrive in the States — you can carry it on board on any domestic connecting flight without a problem. You can also carry them on board on your flight from the States back to Dubai and other Middle Eastern destinations x

    1. Iris Lillian says

      This is super helpful, thanks Nooree! Have the new rules caused mild irritation and disruption to your business travel, or worse?

  3. Iris Lillian says

    It sure is, Luciana. What will you be watching first?

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