Life may soon get more complicated for anyone flying from Europe to the U.S.
The U.S. is reportedly considering an expansion of the March electronics ban, which forbids anyone from carrying a laptop into a plane cabin if they’re flying from eight Middle Eastern and African countries. If the U.S. Department of Homeland Security does what’s expected, that same ban may soon apply to select countries in Europe as well.
The reason for the electronics ban expansion, which affects devices larger than a smartphone (i.e. laptops, tablets, cameras, etc.), is ostensibly the same as before: Terrorists could hide bombs in laptops and other devices brought in the cabin, which could detonate and take down planes.
You’ll still be able to bring the cabin-banned electronics with you, but you’ll have to pack them into checked luggage.
The ban would basically prohibit almost all devices larger than a common smartphone (so iPads and Windows tablets are out, natch), so what the hell can you bring onboard for work and entertainment? The TL;DR is: not much. But here are some options.
Out of all travelers, a ban would hurt business folk the most. If you’re traveling on business, chances are you usually have a laptop or tablet in your carry-on to crunch some numbers or view reports during flights… you know, get “real” work done.
The obvious solution is to just do all your work before you get to the airport so you don’t need to do anything on the plane. But if that’s not an option, consider working on your phone.
Your phone’s screen is never going to compare to the expanse of a laptop or tablet, but you can still pound out emails or write up reports faster if you connect a Bluetooth keyboard.
Just to be safe, we recommend getting a foldable Bluetooth keyboard. The $40 WIZO foldable keyboard (above) can be folded up to about the size of a smartphone.
A more sizable Bluetooth keyboard like Zagg’s $70 Pocket Keyboard or Logitech’s $50 Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard offer more spacious layouts, but they’ve still got lithium-ion batteries and a stiff TSA agent could force you to check it. It’d be a dick thing for them to do, but it’s better to not risk it.
Samsung Gear VR
Must have big screen entertainment experience? Try strapping on a Samsung Gear VR (it’s powered by a Samsung phone and doesn’t have its own battery, so it’s safe from the ban) and loading up a movie. Its virtual screen could be just the big-screen replacement you ned.
Personally, I’d just stick to the in-flight movies or use my phone, but if you don’t mind looking like a dork, sure, why the hell not.
Game Boy Micro
There aren’t many portable game devices that are allowed. The Nintendo Switch is too big and although the 3DS XL and PS Vita could are roughly the size of a smartphone, they’re technically too big. Again, a douchey TSA agent could give you hell for bring them onboard.
A safe bet for games (aside from your phone) is the Game Boy Micro. eBay sells used ones for under $100 and the Game Boy Advance catalog is filled excellent games from Nintendo’s Mario, Zelda and Pokémon franchises.
Sorry Casey Neistat wannabes, but you’re gonna need to use your phone or get a smaller camera if you wanna continue vlogging on a plane. That DSLR hooked up to a tripod isn’t gonna pass through security. Consider a GoPro (or any other action camera) or a point-and-shoot.
Taking a glass half full/half empty view, the electronics ban could be the detox from technology you need, but don’t have the discipline for.
Sure, you could still play with your phone, but you could also use the long flight from Europe to read a book (a real physical one with pages), write in your journal, or do some crossword/sudoku puzzles.
Nothing wrong with going low-tech.
Another way to keep yourself occupied on the plane is with a fidget spinner. You might annoy those around you, especially if you’re sitting in the middle seat, but who cares? You do you. Who knows, maybe you’ll be able to spin one on each finger by landing time.