Travel: March 2007 Archives

Sometime last year, the United Kingdom Department for Transport imposed a ban on laptops and other electronic items in the aircraft cabin on flights originating in the UK. This created the absurd situation that you could carry your laptop or iPod with you in the cabin for the flight from the US to the UK but had to pack them in your checked baggage for the trip back home. At one point you could only carry your travel documents in a transparent pouch -- no handbags, nothing in your pockets.

I was thinking about this again today when I booked a domestic business flight online and found the following alert on my Travelocity itinerary page:

Travel within and from the United Kingdom:
  • If you are traveling within the UK, or if you are departing the UK for another international destination, you must check ALL of your belongings. Wallets, IDs, and necessary medications are exceptions; these essential items must be carried in a plastic bag (clear bags are recommended).
  • Electronic items are not permitted on board any aircraft. Electronic items include laptops, mobile phones, and iPods.

In trying to find out whether the policy is still in effect, I found plenty of comment (nearly all negative) on the ban when it was enacted, but I had a hard time finding anything indicating whether the ban is still in effect, or if there are any plans for changing the policy.

I did find this airport security page on the UK Department for Transport website, which appears to be authoritative. The rules, regarding carry-ons, electronics, and liquids seem to be only slightly more restrictive than the rules in the US. The only reference to electronics is that large items like laptops have to be removed from carry-on luggage and screened separately. No hint of a ban, and no reference to the lifting of a ban.

So were the restrictions lifted, and if so, when?

UPDATE: Here we go:

Home Office (roughly equivalent to our Justice Department) press release from August 14, 2006:

Passengers are now allowed to carry one item of cabin baggage through the airport security search point.

The dimensions of this item must not exceed a maximum length of 45cm, width of 35cm and depth of 16cm (17.7"×13.7"×6.2" approx) including wheels, handles, side pockets, etc.

Other bags, such as handbags, may be carried within the single item of cabin baggage. All items carried by passengers will be screened by X-ray....

All laptops and large electrical items (eg, large hairdryer) must be removed from the bag and placed in a tray, so that when the cabin baggage is x-ray screened, these items neither obscure nor are obscured by the bag.

And this from September 21, 2006:

Starting this Friday, 22 September, larger bags will again be allowed into airplane cabins, the Department for Transport announced today.

Currently, passengers boarding flights in the UK are limited to one item of carry-on luggage, with dimensions no more than 45cm by 35cm by 16cm. Starting Friday, passengers will still be allowed to carry only one item of luggage into the cabin of the aircraft, but it can be bigger, as limits are being raised to 56cm by 45cm by 25cm (including wheels, handles and side pockets).

It's odd that I can't find any reference to the changes in the press release section of the DfT website.

As I write this -- this is being posted on a delay -- I am sitting in the Albuquerque airport. Not only do they have free wi-fi here, but there is an upstairs lounge (with power outlets!) near gate B1 with views of the airfield and the mountains to the east of town.

This was my first visit to the Duke City (where the minor league baseball team is no longer the Dukes, but the Isotopes). I'm impressed. It was a business trip, so I didn't have a lot of time to explore, but we got out a little bit.

We had pizza at Il Vicino in the Nob Hill district, a lively area of restaurants, little shops, and old motels on Central -- old 66 -- just east of the University of New Mexico campus. The next night we headed north of town to a hacienda-style restaurant called El Pinto. It's on Fourth Street, the pre-1937 alignment of US 66 that passed through Santa Fe and came into Albuquerque from the north. It's in a picturesque setting not far from the Rio Grande. The restaurant, with its various rooms and courtyards, made me think of a more authentic version of Casa Bonita with better food. Even though we were in the most unattractive room in the restaurant and had an inexperienced waiter, I had a great meal of carne adobada (roast pork marinated in red chiles) with fresh guacamole. I substituted calabacitas (summer squash, zucchini, corn, onions, and green chiles) for the pinto beans. (Taco Cabana used to offer calabacitas -- I miss that.)

I saw a little bit of Route 66. Albuquerque's stretch of the Mother Road has one of the better assortments of classic old motels, and the section of Central that passes through downtown is a lively entertainment district. I'd love to come back and explore further some day.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Travel category from March 2007.

Travel: January 2007 is the previous archive.

Travel: May 2007 is the next archive.

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