In light of the recent incident on the Northwest international flight from Amsterdam to Detroit where the supsect tried to ignite some type of incendiary/explosive device, the TSA has reacted with even more restrictive security precautions. Similar to the initial reaction to the Shoe Bomber and the scare of mixing liquids to create an explosion, the primary concern continues to be a person, our group of people bringing on board a device capable of generating enough energy to create a fire/explosion capable of crashing or disabling an aircraft in flight.
My concern is that at some point in the near future someone will try a similar attack using some variation of a laptop battery. Under “normal” conditions, they can already be volatile (just search the web for exploding laptop batteries) and I can only imagine what someone with more advanced knowledge could do to create a modified one. In addition, with it being the status quo for almost everyone on board to have a laptop, it leaves open the possibility of a coordinated plot that combines multiple batteries into one conflagration.
If this does come to pass and the TSA bans laptops as carry on luggage for flights, it will be the end of business travel as we know it. Without the ability to work on the plane, in the airport, etc. the vast majority of business trips will no longer have enough value to offset the incredible time sink they are. I know from personal experience that for a 1 night trip I spend more time in transit than in business meetings and for a 2 night trip, it’s about equal. Those are numbers I can live with when I have my laptop on the plane and airport as I do some of my best work on the plane. However, in the non-laptop scenario those numbers become untenable not only for myself but for many business travelers. The idea of flying into a city for a meeting and them flying back no longer makes sense.
I really hope I’m wrong about this, because if I’m not, it’s only a matter of time before they ban anything with batteries (cell phones, nintendo’s, DVD players, etc.), thus making the average American passenger (and citizen) even more miserable when they travel by air.