We've got good news and bad news, frequent fliers. Good news first? OK, when you travel this summer, you're likely to end up in one of our 60 Feel At Home destinations, where you don't have to pay an extra penny to use your phone or tablet abroad just like you would in the UK. Unfortunately, with a new electronics ban in place, we're a lot more limited in terms of what tech we can bring on the plane with us when coming or going from certain countries. Here's what you need to know...
First there were snakes on a plane. Then when all the memes, spoofs and emojis had been exhausted, reality took over.
Most of us are now pros at whipping out sandwich bags and shoving our travel-sized lipsticks, hair sprays and hand lotions separately through airport scanners. However, in an effort to make our skies even safer, the authorities have been getting stricter when it comes to what we can and can’t bring on a plane with us.
Let’s put it this way: if your entire long-haul flying strategy involves watching as many episodes of Orange is the New Black as you can in a row, you’ll want to keep reading.
And if you fly with children and rely on your iPad to babysit them through an entire flight, then pay attention. You’re going to have to get cosy with those tiny behind-the-seat airplane screens… and be happy with whatever films/shows are on offer for your flight. Translation? We predict lots of screaming, at an altitude of 30,000 feet, in your future…
Like most of us, you’re probably planning to jet off to warmer climes this summer. We want nothing more than for our customers to go roam in far-flung destinations across the globe; in fact, we’ve just upped our Feel At Home destinations total to 60, including warm-and-glorious places like Brazil, Singapore and the French West Indies. Which means you can use your phone just like you do at home, abroad – snapping pics, surfing, texting – at no extra cost.
Countries enforcing a tech ban on planes
Planning to get your yearly dose of vitamin D in sun-soaked north Africa or the Middle East? Then there are certain things you need to be mindful of when it comes to the tech you can bring with you on the flight.
Laptops, tablets, e-readers, portable DVD players and mobile phones have had strict rules brought in to stop them from being used as weapons. Basically, if you have a device with a screen larger than 6.29″ x 3.66″ x .59″ (length x width x depth) then it’s best to leave it at home. Phew: our new Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, with its 6.2″ screen, just makes the cut.
The travel embargo pertains to ALL direct and connecting flights from the following countries:
— Dept for Transport (@transportgovuk) April 12, 2017
The broad outline you need to keep in mind is that if it’s phablet-sized or larger, then blow it a kiss, give it a cuddle and say goodbye to your beloved for a couple weeks.
Note: this doesn’t necessarily mean bad news for lounging by the pool, cocktail by your side as you perfect your #hotdoglegs pose. In fact, it could be the perfect excuse to either splurge on one of the latest and greatest smartphones, like the Samsung Galaxy S8, with its dazzling infinity screen, or go way retro and spend the equivalent of two (pricey) cocktails on the recently released Nokia 3310. One word: SNAKE.
Pack your charger
Here’s another important thing to remember: don’t attempt to bring your charger on the flight with you. There’s a high risk of your portable lithium bestie being taken away at security. So if like most other Apple fanboys/girls, your iPhone comes as a unique double act with its charger, it may help to curtail your mobile usage at the airport and stick the charger in your checked-in baggage.
Regional and international airlines enforcing these restrictions include EasyJet, British Airways, RyanAir, Jet2.com, Monarch, Thomas Cook, Thomson, Atlas-Global Airlines, Egyptair, Middle East Airlines, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Pegasus Airways, Royal Jordanian, Saudia, Tunis Air and Turkish Airlines.
While all nationalities will have to abide by the rules for flying on those routes, holidaymakers and travellers from the U.S. have it tougher. Restrictions for them are more rigorous and apply to and from any destination that connects to Cairo in Egypt, which basically means you won’t be reading The Sellout on your Kindle on any flight to the Middle East.
If you’re smug enough to be a business or premium passenger, you’re in luck: airlines like Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways will be handing out laptops and iPads to any passengers heading from the Middle East to the U.S.
Confiscated tablet? Don’t fret…
Airlines are also doing what they can to ease customers’ concerns over the well-being of their devices (almost as valuable as a child, right?) if they are confiscated by customs officers.
While Emirates allows passengers to hand in their devices as they board – as opposed to checking them in with their luggage – Qatar Airways will ensure items are safe by collecting and securely packaging them. “These will be tagged, loaded as check-in baggage and returned safely to the customer on arrival to the U.S.,” the company has stated.
On the plus side, check-in baggage rules haven’t changed so travellers will be able to take laptops, Kindles, iPads and battery packs in their luggage – if you’re willing to risk it. No time like the present to protect your phone from loss, theft or damage with Three Rescue.
Main pic: Getty via Westend61