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Electronics Ban is Going to Cost Travelers More Than Just Their Time

Enhanced security for travelers is beginning to strengthen along with the enforcement of a ban on electronics. Many travelers are being screened for carry-on devices that are larger than a smartphone. One traveler coming from Qatar to New York City told of her experience with agents.

She said that she had to report of all electronic on her person including her laptop and iPad. She also told a source that once at the gate “the security agent asked me if I had any electronics. I said they were checked in.”

The start of the ban, on March 25th, is only going to grow sterner in the upcoming days and weeks. Passengers who will inevitably be affected should take note of the facts posted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on their website.

Yet despite their guidance and aid with providing some facts about what travelers should expect before boarding flights, the DHS doesn’t seem to go into detail about how passengers can deal with the risk and the stress that accompanies it, of having electronic devices in their luggage.

Here a few things to know. None of the airlines currently offer the option of rebooking or cancellation penalties no matter how much of a smooth talker you try to be. If you choose to cancel a flight or change your itinerary on any nine airlines that are affected by the U.S. ban, fees will be charged.

Those nine airlines are as follows: Egyptair, Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, Kuwait Airways, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, and Turkish Airlines.

The flights to the U.S. that are affected by this are Dubai and Abu Dhabi, UAE; Istanbul, Turkey; Cairo, Egypt; Doha, Qatar; Amman, Jordan; Kuwait City; Casablanca, Morocco; and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

When you think of fees, it’s important to keep in mind that the average cancellation fee is $200 per person, and that’s not including the changing fees that can get to be a bit higher. There’s also a fare that has to be paid when accounting the new travel dates.

These fines are only going to become more prominent since the electronics ban has been placed in effect indefinitely. Many have had the thought to push travel back by a week or even a month, but that won’t work around the ban.

Many U.S. travelers are already alternating their travel plans. One Washington, D.C.-based traveler said, “My family canceled its flight from Italy through Morocco. I wonder how many other U.S. travelers are doing the same.”

The traveler also confirmed the cancellation fee of $200 but said that for her the fee was worth it. She said, “It was cheaper than replacing broken/stolen laptops and cameras.”

However, it seems like travelers aren’t the only ones who are having a hard time when it comes to the new ban. Travel agents aren’t doing so well in regard to allowing their clients to cancel flights. Many travel agencies deal with a number of the airlines that were mentioned in the ban.

Peggy Goldman, who is the founder of Friendly Planet Travel, told a source, “Since this is a ban by the USA and not their home countries, they don’t feel they have any reason to waive cancellation fees. For passengers who are just booking tours with us, we are advising them of the new ban and offering other air options.”

Yet when it comes to the question of damaged electronic goods, many travelers are wondering if travel insurance will cover any stolen or broken devices that are in checked luggage. The unfortunate answer to that is no. In fact, many airline carriers have a clause that states there will be no coverage for devices that are damaged or stolen.

Advice against having to deal with this would be to purchase travel insurance prior to taking the trip. In fact, there are companies like Allianz Global Assistance that will cover electronic devices up to $500 and baggage claims from $500 to $2,000. Another company, World Nomads, says it will cover any lost, stolen or damaged devices up to $1,500. However, when one thinks about the rising cost of electronics, it’s best to shop around for a plan that offers the most coverage.

So how should travelers go about taking pre-flight precautions when it comes to their devices? Many suggest buying protective coverings and sleeves for any and all devices that you plan to include in your luggage. It would also be wise to encase those items in a hard-shell suitcase.

But it’s not just the jostling and rough handling that might prove harm to luggage and the costly items stored inside. Experts highly suggest sealing all liquids, including toiletries, into leak-proof plastic when they are packed away with electronic gadgets. There are also cases for lithium ion batteries that are not only fireproof to protect other items in case of a battery explosion but will offer many travelers a bit more peace of mind.

Many airlines are still trying to come up with ways to best aid travelers when it comes to ban. So far, Emirates has announced its way of allowing its passengers to keep their devices until take off.

Available only at Dubai International Airport, the new service allows for passengers to present their electronic devices to security staff at the boarding gates. Security will then seal the devices “carefully” into boxes and continue to load them “into the aircraft hold.” Once passengers reach their destination to the States, their device will be returned to them.

This is one step that many airlines will follow in order to make the whole process of the electronics ban as simple as possible.

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