FAA Proposes Worldwide Laptop Ban on Checked Bags

In October, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration began urging the world airline community to ban large, personal electronic devices like laptops from checked luggage on international flights due to the potential for a catastrophic fire.

The FAA is concerned about the lithium-ion batteries that are common in electronic devices like laptops. Tests conducted by the agency have concluded that when large electronics overheat in luggage they run the risk of combustion when packed with aerosol canisters like hairspray and dry shampoo. Depending on the type of plane, the potential for explosion becomes a danger to the entire aircraft.

FAA conducts tests

The agency conducted 10 tests, with four that included potentially explosive materials in addition to the laptop, including a bottle of dry shampoo, a 6-ounce bottle of nail polish remover, a 2-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer, and a 16-ounce bottle of 70% ethyl rubbing alcohol. All caused fires, but only the one with the dry shampoo exploded in a manner that couldn’t be contained by fire suppression systems in the aircraft and engulfed the luggage compartment within just 40 seconds.

Appeal to U.N.

The FAA submitted a paper to a United Nations agency detailing the results of their tests and stating that the fire could then rage unchecked, leading to “the loss of the aircraft.”

In the paper, the FAA explains in detail that the fire suppression systems in some modern airplanes are no match against the kinds of explosions that the FAA tested for. The FAA believes that the only reason there haven’t been more explosive incidents from electronic devices in checked baggage is simply because most people take their laptops and other devices larger than a smartphone in their carry-on.

While the FAA’s paper doesn’t address whether there should be a domestic ban, they do consider this a global issue and hopes to set a worldwide standard through the UN, since people so commonly hop on connecting flights.

Airplane industry agrees

According to the Associated Press, the largest airplane manufacturers as well as the FAA’s counterpart in Europe all agree with the FAA’s findings in the paper. The U.S. has previously toyed with the idea of banning all laptops in the cabin on all planes for international flights traveling to the U.S.

Potentially confusing to passengers

The FAA’s ban proposal may be unclear to passengers, who remember the laptop ban from earlier this year that was implemented by the US Department of Homeland Security against flights from 10 different Middle Eastern countries. Those flights didn’t allow passengers to carry large electronic devices in the cabin. That ban was allegedly in place because of credible threats to commercial aircraft by terrorist organizations. The ban was lifted in July after the 10 airports that were impacted reportedly made security improvements.

The FAA’s paper does explore alternatives to an outright ban on laptops in checked baggage, including allowing it to happen on the kinds of planes with the most advanced fire suppression systems, and asking passengers not to pack things like dry shampoo in the same bag as laptops. But the agency’s final recommendation is to simply ban laptops outright from being stored in checked bags.

The paper acknowledges the lack of data beyond its own 10 tests and specifically says that it welcomes further analysis from the international community.

Source: Fox6now.com

Flight Attendants Share Wisdom on Carry-On Bags

If you fly regularly, you know the annoyance of having to check bags, especially if you have to pay extra for them. Even worse is getting to your destination, tired and jet lagged, and realizing your luggage didn’t make it to the baggage claim. There is a better way — it’s called the carry-on bag.

What flight attendants and frequent fliers have known for years is that with the right bag and some smart packing techniques, you can cruise through security, onto the plane and out of the airport with ease.

Get a good carry-on bag.

It’s called a 22″ spinner carry-on bag. It’s the bag you see speedily rolling behind many pilots and flight attendants as they make their way to their next gate. Look for a sturdy, well-designed but lightweight bag with roomy pockets and a wide wheelbase. Spinner carry-ons get their name because of their four wheels. Bags with four wheels are easier to move around than those with just two. Airlines require carry-on bags that are small enough to fit under the seat or in the overhead compartment. Maximum size limits are typically 22″ long x 14″ wide x 9″ tall and 40 pounds. That’s why the 22″ spinner is a popular carry-on size. Most airlines allow you to carry on one small bag plus one personal item, including a laptop, purse or briefcase as long as it doesn’t exceed 36″ total and fits under the seat in front of you.

Understand what you can pack.

While you’re allowed to carry liquids, gels, and aerosols in your carry-on bag, there are restrictions you must be aware of before you pack. According to the Transportation Security Administration website, all liquids, gels, and aerosols must be in 3.4 ounce (100ml) or smaller containers. Larger containers that are half-full or rolled up are not allowed. All liquids, gels, and aerosols must be placed in a single, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag. Gallon size bags or bags that are not zip-top such as fold-over sandwich bags are not allowed. For more details about what you can carry on an airplane, visit TSA.gov/311.

Utilize all the space.

The key to maximizing space in a 22″ spinner carry-on is to roll your clothes into “tubes” instead of folding and stacking them like in a store. Rolling saves space and also helps prevent wrinkles. It’s also easier to select what you want to wear from your bag without unpacking the whole thing. Roll several items together to prevent more wrinkles. Don’t pack them in the carry-on bag as soon as you roll them. Once all the clothes are rolled, stand the carry-on up and pack heavier things such as shoes and books first at the wheel-end of the case so they don’t move around and crush the other items. One flight attendant claims she can pack clothes for 10 days by rolling instead of folding them. Another advocates the use of vacuum space saver bags.

Wear your nice, and harder to pack clothes and shoes on the plane. They won’t wrinkle or take up space in your carry-on. Even if you’re able to pack everything you want in the bag, keep in mind the typical 40 pound weight limit.