Potential Laptop/Electronics Ban - Looking for Opinions/Options

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by ijm5012, May 15, 2017.

  1. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    As many travel-savvy US residents probably read last week, it appears that the "laptop ban" will be expanding from select airports in middle-eastern cities to include airports across Europe. I have yet to see anything official about the airports, items banned, etc., but I wanted to create this thread to start getting an idea of what options we may have for traveling to and from Europe (because honestly, who the hell goes to Europe on a vacation and doesn't bring a camera with them to document the trip?).

    My wife and I will be taking a trip just over a week long to Switzerland and Germany in just under a month. My initial plan was to bring my newly purchased LowePro ProTactic 450 backpack with me as my carry-on bag. It would contain all of my camera equipment, my laptop, and my SSD. After traveling to London a few years ago and taking a bunch of photo gear, I realized just how painful it was to use the hotel-provided computers to transfer photos from my SD cards on to my external drive. So I figured I'll bring my 13" rMBP with me, and just do it from the convenience of our hotel room.

    Well, this whole electronics ban has thrown a monkey wrench in to my plans...

    • Photo backup. Initially, I had planned on using my rMBP & SSD to move all the files from my SD cards on to my SSD, but now I'm not certain it'll be worth the hassle to bring my computer with me. I have started to look at WD's My Passport Wireless Pro, and it seems that it could be a viable option. I could simply plug the SD cards in, have it transfer, and check to see that the files were successfully transferred using the WD My Cloud App. I'm thinking this would be a good option, but I'm curious as to whether or not anyone has used this before, and if so, how you felt it worked?

    • Bringing a camera. If the ban really does include cameras, I'm not too certain what my plan will be. Our trip over consists of two transfers, as does our return leg. Hell, I wouldn't want to stick my camera gear in checked luggage for a direct flight, let alone hoping it'll make both connections over, and both connections back without getting lost. Even if I could/would carry all of my lenses in my carry-on, I'd still be checking ~$3,000 worth of cameras (E-M1 II & E-M5 II). What do you recommend we do if cameras are included in the electronics ban?
    I certainly appreciate any and all feedback/suggestions/options people care to share. As summer approaches, I'm sure there are many of us who have vacations planned, and this could make traveling a huge headache.

    On a related note, just what the hell does sticking items that may contain a bomb down in the cargo area do to increase safety over having them in the cabin? What, would they all of a sudden not be able to detonate the device if it were down in the cargo hold? Also, where's all the concern about sticking Lithium Ion batteries down in cargo? Were airlines all freaking about that all Li-Ion batteries must be in carry-on luggage, but now all of a sudden it's OK to stick a bunch of them down in cargo?

    This really doesn't make any sense to me, and it's a huge inconvenience to a number of travelers, both business and please.
     
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  2. AllanG

    AllanG Mu-43 Veteran

    314
    Aug 26, 2014
    Brisbane, Australia
    Allan
    I've been using the WD my passport 1Tb drive now to back up my SD cards for several years on overseas trips ie ever since it became available. It also has wifi built in and so you can download movies, song etc and use that to port to say a mini pad or phone.
    The unit functions flawlessly and I now travel just with the WD and an IPad mini. Can easily review keepers on the iPad after wifi transfer.
    I don't travel without them.
    We were going to travel to the States next year but have decided to give it a wide berth and travel through Canada instead due to the prevailing restrictions.
     
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  3. AussiePhil

    AussiePhil Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 1, 2014
    Canberra, ACT, Aust
    Phil
    On the WD wireless pro, love mine, use it regularly when I'm out all day, battery life seems fine for all the files sane people might transfer in a day, I was dropping 6k to 10k of files onto it per day at the tennis, just put it on charge each night

    As for cargo bays and bombs, yes they are a lot safer than in the cabins, cargo bays have been continually improved with respect to bomb proofing...
     
  4. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Maybe a question for the likes of Matt Granger, Kai, Lok, the Northrups, etc. I don't see how they can keep doing what they're doing without major changes if the ban goes ahead.
     
  5. Mike Wingate

    Mike Wingate Mu-43 Veteran

    446
    Feb 21, 2017
    Altrincham
    Mike Wingate
    Remote control devices to operate explosives can easily be picked up/detected by the airport authorities. No laptops on flights to the US from GB. Not sure about cameras and lenses. Nothing bigger than an iPhone 7 in hand luggage from the UK.
     
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  6. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    Ya I read about that possible ban and was wondering how they would work around the "no Li-Ion batteries in the cargo hold" vs. no electronics in carry on. I had not seen any indication that they were going to relax the li-ion restriction in check in luggage so it would appear that the ban would mean you wouldn't be able to bring those things at all.

    Anyway, I couple thoughts to minimize what you need to bring. With respect to backups, if it ends up that leaving home laptops and tablets is going to be easiest, even things like portable hard drives with batteries might be an issue as well. So in my mind one solution that requires very little extra hardware is if you are already traveling with a mobile phone that can take microSD cards (unfortunately not all models do), is to get an OTG (on the go) card reader which allows you to plug in your SD card to your phone and access the contents. Then get microSD cards at least as large as you camera SD cards to install into the phone. Each evening you put in your microSD cards into the phone and connect the camera's SD card via the OTG reader and transfer from the SD to the microSD card as backup. No computers, tablets, portable hard drives, etc. needed. I don't know about you but I use a 32GB card in my E-M1 and have found on the last couple of two week long family vacations, shooting RAW+JPG and close to 1000 shots, I usually don't get close to filling the card to capacity. So I could pick up a 64GB microSD card for under $30 and have enough space on my phone for 4-6 weeks of vacation back up. Cheap and portable.

    As to the camera concern, if I couldn't bring my camera on a trip like that I am not sure what I would do with myself. One thought is I would rather ship my gear (maybe a reduced kit) with a quality carrier, insured, and signed for to the hotel I was going to stay than trust it to the airlines to not lose, damage, or pilfer my camera equipment. I am sure if you call ahead most hotels probably have a procedure in place for receiving and holding packages for/from arriving guests. Keep in mind that the restriction would be for battery operated electronics, so you could still carry your expensive lenses with you on carry on and would only need to ship the camera body, batteries, and charger.

    I wonder if you could travel with your camera in carry on if you didn't travel with the batteries? If so, then you could just ship the batteries or buy new ones at your destination. My only concern would be ignorant airport security would in their minds remember only the "no cameras" part and no matter how you tried to explain you didn't have any batteries would bar you from passing with your camera. That would be awful.
     
  7. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    What about London to Toronto then a transfer?
     
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  8. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    @AllanG@AllanG & @AussiePhil@AussiePhil , glad to hear you guys like your WD Wireless drives. I think this is probably the best way to go. I'll have my iPhone & iPad with me, so I can do all of the set-up on those, and then just pop the SD cards in, copy the files over, and be done with it.

    @Mike Wingate@Mike Wingate , That's really a shame about devices from the UK to US. I imagine it's a big detractor for people looking to come to the US on holiday to go sight-seeing.

    @PakkyT@PakkyT , I have an iPhone, so no micro SD for me. Regarding the shipping of equipment, that was my thought. I guess getting it over there wouldn't be an issue, it would be getting it back home. The good news is I would have all of my pictures from the trip backed up on the external drive. The bad news would be the cost of international shipping of a package insured to $3,000. But, that may be the best option to ensure I receive it (or get reimbursed if it's lost/damaged), rather than rolling the dice of the sticky-fingered TSA agents...

    While it's an inconvenience for me to get my gear back home, it's even more of an inconvenience for those Europeans who with to come to the US, but must now jump through a number of hoops.
     
  9. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    Possibly a great reason to buy a second hand E-M5 or E-M1 (mark 1) and sending only the one body? :)

    I guess the big beneficiaries of such a ban will be the camera and lens rental companies? ;)
     
  10. Hypilein

    Hypilein Mu-43 Top Veteran

    733
    Mar 18, 2015
    Shipping may be an issue with regards to customs. I am fairly sure there will be insurance springing up for checked luggage if the ban becomes a reality, but it won't be cheap.

    To be honest, if the ban happens and I will just not travel to the US...
     
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  11. Repp

    Repp Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    931
    Jan 27, 2011
    Oak Harbor, WA
    So, from what I've read Europe ban is happening soon with rest of the worlds incoming flights to the US to follow. They'd rather have the batteries in the hold, which the FAA is throwing a fit over, which is apparently the cause for the delay of implementation. Cameras have to be checked, lenses are the iffy part with the TSA telling people different things from the middle eastern banned countries.

    I travel internationally 6-10 times a year for my current job, my plan is to buy a stout pelican case and plus up my insurance (most airlines only cover $1000-2000 for checked items).

    INSURE YOUR GEAR!!!!
     
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  12. Hypilein

    Hypilein Mu-43 Top Veteran

    733
    Mar 18, 2015
    Take care with the insurance. Currently most insurance does not cover checked in items because it is deemed insecure (go figure). I expect this to change and prices to rise though.
     
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  13. Ranger Rick

    Ranger Rick Mu-43 Veteran

    278
    Apr 11, 2009
    Tempe, AZ
    Rick
    " (most airlines only cover $1000-2000 for checked items). "

    According to at least Delta's terms and conditions, they specifically DO NOT provide ANY coverage for (among other things) cameras and electronics in checked luggage.
     
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  14. Repp

    Repp Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    931
    Jan 27, 2011
    Oak Harbor, WA
    I'd also expect this to spread, as the US's flight rules often set the trend internationally. So, as a person from the US, I'm so very sorry.
     
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  15. Mike Wingate

    Mike Wingate Mu-43 Veteran

    446
    Feb 21, 2017
    Altrincham
    Mike Wingate
    Well, I am glad I spent 4 weeks going across the USA last year. Off to China this year instead of the east coast, New Orleans and a trip up the Mississipi on a paddle boat.
     
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  16. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    While I am always concerned about credible threats, I am a bit more concerned about Lithium Ion batteries in the cargo holds of aircraft given the damage they can do. It would be nice if "the powers that be" could get a clear take on the big picture when they try to implement these actions. Is there really no way to accommodate electronics with the right screening and/or securing in a safe place in an aircraft?

    --Ken
     
  17. Repp

    Repp Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    931
    Jan 27, 2011
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Honestly, this is all just security theater (See this if you don't really know what that means). The DHS and TSA are a joke.
     
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  18. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    @PakkyT@PakkyT , I own an E-M1, E-M5 II, and E-M1 II. The plan is/was to bring the M5 II & M1 II, because of the hi-res mode for landscape shots, better LE noise performance, and 4K video. As for the 1 body thing, no way would I want to take a single body on a week-long trip across Switzerland & Germany. While the odds of the camera failing are slim, it's not a risk I'd be willing to take.

    @Hypilein@Hypilein , After hearing horror stories of people dealing with attempted reimbursement through the airlines, I don't want to deal with that. I'd rather pay for insurance with the shipping company to insure the package & it's contents. If they damage it, they're at fault. I suppose I'd be open to hearing options about what other types of insurance would cover my gear in transit from Europe back to the USA. Does anybody have any suggestions?

    @Replytoken@Replytoken , I think this is the real question that needs to be answered. The USA and many European countries (specifically Germany, where I will be departing from to come back home) always claim how "advanced" they are, yet somehow they're being outsmarted by these "primitive" terrorist organizations? I mean seriously, how does that happen? How can you claim to be one of the strongest and most technologically advanced countries in the world, yet you can't figure out how organizations that are living in caves managed to conceal explosives in batteries, and properly screen for that?

    It's damn infuriating, and pretty embarrassing if I'm being honest about it.
     
  19. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    I thought the lithium battery issue was related to pallets of them being transported as cargo, not individual batteries, but then it just snowballed to batteries = danger.

    I have zero trust in any sort of safety regulations though. Too much of it seems designed to just create the appearance of safety.
     
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  20. Repp

    Repp Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    931
    Jan 27, 2011
    Oak Harbor, WA
    I'd still insure it separately through the post. A friend just shipped a laptop, insured it for $500, and it showed up broken. Instead of honoring the insurance, USPS just refunded the cost of the insurance purchase... roughly $40. Told him to file a lawsuit if he wasn't satisfied.
     
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