by Thomas Wailgum

Laptops (and iPods!) Banned on U.K. Flights

Aug 11, 20065 mins

In the wake of Thursday’s announcement from United Kingdom officials who had discovered a plot to blow up airplanes taking off from Britain that were headed to the United States, both theU.K. and the U.S. governments have announced new restrictions for those who are going to fly.

The restrictions are being called “temporary,” but one of the major components of the U.K. ban is that you can’t have your laptop (as well as cell phone, handheld, iPod or DVD player) with you in the cabin — it’s got to go into your check-in bags.

Now I’m pretty sure that there’s not going to be a storm of outrage from the business traveler community about the fact that they can’t look over their PowerPoint presentations or financial spreadsheets while cruising at 30,000 feet — the security of the airplane has far greater importance — but it will be both an inconvenience and a worry.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I have to fly, I always bring my laptop with me into the cabin. The first reason owes to the fact that working on my stories is a nice way to kill some time during a long flight. The second, and perhaps more important, reason is that I wouldn’t trust my laptop’s general well-being to the baggage-handling system in most airports. (Heck, I’m even worried about them breaking my tube of tooth paste, let alone an expensive, fragile and sometimes temperamental laptop. Without my laptop, I’m useless.) Not to mention the fact that the whole suitcase or bag could get sent to New Delhi instead of New Hampshire, where I live. According a Computerworld article, “as of February, maximum baggage compensation for international trips was about $1,400 per passenger, according to, a Web site run by aviation expert Todd Curtis.” $1,400? That’s it? Well, that’s not going to cut it, is it? Your laptop is worth more than that.

Not to worry. I received an e-mail from laptop security vendor Absolute Software, which listed 10 tips for today’s traveler. Here’s the list:

1. Use luggage locks. Luggage locks act as a deterrent to theft and may discourage a criminal from targeting your bag. Ensure that your luggage lock is TSA approved so that it survives inspection.

 2. Pack laptops for rough handling. To avoid unnecessary damage, encase laptops in soft foam or bubble wrap. Place the wrapped package inside a traditional laptop bag or hard case to protect it from rough treatment from baggage handlers or the baggage carousel.  

 3. Keep laptops inconspicuous. Do not check a laptop bag as luggage – instead, put your laptop inside another piece of checked luggage that does not advertise the contents inside. Layering also helps protect against damage and keeps the laptop inconspicuous.   

 4. Use ‘complex’ passwords and encryption solutions. Prevent unauthorized access to your laptop and sensitive data. Simple passwords can often be ‘hacked’ by criminals so be sure to always use a complex combination of letters and numbers.  

 5. Back-up valuable data before travel. It is important to back-up data as frequently as possible to minimize the risk of data loss or lost productivity in the event that your laptop is lost or stolen. Since the information or ‘knowledge’ that is stored on the computer is often more valuable than the computer itself, it is important to treat the data with as much care as possible.

 6. Invest in asset tracking and recovery software. Laptop recovery tools such as Computrace from Absolute Software are highly effective, especially those embedded in the BIOS of computers. These tools are not only designed to recover lost or stolen laptops, but often help identify the root cause of internal theft by catching the thieves responsible. Asset tracking tools can also help organizations with asset reporting challenges and regulatory compliance issues.

 7. Use remote data protection. Leverage advanced data protection technology such as Absolute Software’s Computrace Data Protection to remotely wipe sensitive information in the event that your computer is lost or stolen.

 8. Carry portable storage devices. Carry a copy of important information on an external thumb drive for easy access to important information in case your luggage is delayed or lost in transit.

 9. Keep accurate records. Keep purchase receipts and carry your computer’s make, model, and serial number in a safe place in case your luggage is lost and you need to file a claim.

 10. Ensure your laptop is shut down. Make sure your laptop is completely shut down and not in standby or hibernate mode before packing in luggage.

How about you? What are you going to do? Let me know. And safe travels. 

Note: I removed some readers’ comments from this posting due to the fact that many were both racist in nature and were unrelated to this particular story. Let’s keep blanket, stereotypical comments about other cultures and religions off this site. Thanks, Tom