Laptop Ban, Dyspeptic Paraphenaliaitis & Moleskin Notebooks

Palm Visor by Handspring.  Useful in creating business plans at 36000 feet when laptops are prohibited. 

We’ve had sparking shoes and smoking underwear.  There’s the the case of the al Shabaab blunder where a passenger on board an airline which took off from Mogadishu set off the laptop bomb he’d apparently smuggled aboard and proceeded to blow himself out of the fuselage. The score at the end of that terror match:

al Shabaab 0 – World Airlines United 1.

Luckily for the pax and crew the plane continued flying and made an emergency landing.

The latest ban on laptops and tablets on carry-on bags comes after reports from the US and UK intelligence that ISIS has figured out how to make a bomb look like an iPad. The problem is that if you stuff such a device in baggage destined for the hold,  its going to have the same effect as carry-on.

Kabloojeee!  Flight down.

Starting from Saturday March 25th, pax from eight countries who are using electronic devices bigger than a smartphone must dump them in the hold.  I live in South Africa,  which means I’m not affected unless I fly via Dubai and decide to stop off instead of heading to the transit lounge.  Also,  attrition in our local airports means only a maniac would think of putting their trusty laptop in a bag destined to be handled by OR Tambo baggageers.

I’ve heard some noise from business men and women complaining that they won’t be “productive” for the lengthy flights.  Well I’m very sorry,  but its either work on a notepad with a pencil or be deposited in some ocean in mince-meat sized pieces.  If you believe the surveillance folks who have got wind of some ISIS plan.

Then there’s the conspiracy theory that the UK and US have done this to protect their own carriers from Middle Eastern competitors.  Largely because the UK added Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways but left out the UAE and Qatar,  but the US included the latter in their ban.   These airlines are directly funded by their governments and are therefore competing with United or British Airways unfairly.  Therefore the hapless half-math theory goes that the Brits and Yanks are now offering a form of Trump/Bannon type protectionism to their financially strapped airlines by banning airlines from 10 mainly Muslim countries from allowing passengers on board with anything bigger than a smartphone.

I find this line of thinking peculiar and an unsatisfactory conspiracy conjecture but let’s see what happens next.  I’ve already investigated sending my laptop through DHL or UPS and it’s a reasonable fee if you consider the space then available to avoid using the hold altogether.   I flew to Denver and San Francisco in 2016 for a two week business trip using just a carry on bag, using local laundries to keep things clean and ignored my laptop.

  • Firstly,  if you’re really married to your laptop,  send it via DHL and have it delivered on a specific day or time to a place and collect.  Bill the client.
  • Secondly,  if people leave their laptops behind,  the queues at security will speed up.  Every time someone yanks a laptop out of their bag and deposits it in a plastic try,  it slows down the entire clearance operation.
  • Thirdly,  get the client to provide a device and use the cloud.
  • Fourthly, do NOT under any circumstance,  place the laptop or tablet in your luggage.  Only a fool would do that.  It’s going to be stolen.
  • Fifthly,  buy a small foldable typing pad for your phone and use it instead if you really have to take notes.   Like a Palm pilot.  Remember those?  I once wrote an entire business plan for my company using a Palm pilot on a trip from JFK in New York to Johannesburg.  Necessity you know.  It was smaller than my iPhone.

Bans are nothing new.  Last year ICAO prohibited shipments of lithium ion batteries on passenger planes and the Samsung Galaxy 7 was a shattering flaming failure and ordered off all flights like a drunken Moscow football yob on his way to a game against Borussia Dortmund.

I’m expecting Emirates et al to offset this apparent blarney from the US and UK by offering passengers laptops for rent or use.  Business class passengers get them free.  Or perhaps the new cabins of the future will have keypads and operating systems built into the trays and entertainment systems.  Save us all the trouble of lugging these bloody things on and off,  and offer various excuses not to work while indulging in the delight of world aviation. Hey, you’re at 36000 feet,  sit back,  drink a glass of good red wine, read a book, think.


Boot up your moleskin notebook and whip out the trusty pencil.  When Russian cosmonauts went into space in the sixties they used pencils and paper.  What’s the big deal about laptops anyway?

Boot up the trusty Moleskin. 

In the interests of proper data and accuracy,  here is the list of all airports affected by the laptop and tablet ban.

  • Queen Alia International, Amman, Jordan
  • Cairo International Airport, Egypt
  • Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
  • King Abdulaziz International, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • King Khalid International, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • Kuwait International Airport
  • Mohammed V International, Casablanca, Morocco
  • Hamad International, Doha, Qatar
  • Dubai International, United Arab Emirates
  • Abu Dhabi International, United Arab Emirates

The ban will also include DVD players, Nintendo and other game hardware and cameras which upsets me as I’m a multimedia manager.  Ah well,  won’t be stopping in Dubai overnight every again – or until the laptop et al ban is lifted.  Who cares?  There’s always Heathrow and Frankfurt which have other advantages to Dubai with its utterly crass commercial wilderness and dyspeptic paraphenaliaitis.







Turkey & The Sinister Somalian Flight A321

Fortunate Placement.
Fortunate Placement.

A 55 year-old man has been sucked out of a Daallo Airlines Flight A321 to Djibouti which took off from Mogadishu airport in Somalia.  That’s not an opening paragraph you read every day.  Passengers reported hearing a loud explosion moments before the 55 year-old man identified as Abdullahi Abdisalam Borle was dragged out by the pressure differential.  He had been brought aboard in a wheel chair and was seated over the right wing. Which is fortunate.  Any further forward the debris could have damaged the engine.  Further back and the explosion may have affected the horizontal stabiliser.

While two passengers were slightly hurt,  there were no other casualties.  Which is a miracle, really.  It’s now reported that the most likely cause of the decompression was a small explosive device.  And the finger is being pointed at Borle.  He may have been the victim of the wrong time wrong place syndrome.

Authorities in Mogadishu announced formally on Saturday 6th February that the blast was caused by  a bomb which they say Borle was carrying hidden inside a laptop.    The force punched a one-metre-sized hole in the side of the aircraft.   What we know for sure is that a one-metre wide hole is all you need to suck a man out of a plane.

Courtesy of PPRUNE.ORG
Courtesy of PPRUNE.ORG

While Al Shabaab has said nothing, the signs are there that this flight was targeted.   Is it a co-incidence that Somalia’s UN ambassador, Awale Kullane, was on board the plane?

The license for the route is held by Turkish Airlines.  But citing “a technical problem” TA suddenly pulled its planes from Somalia the day before the blast and Daallo Airlines was duly installed.  Passengers were told they’d meet up with Turkish Airlines in Djibouti.  This is no co-incidence.  Turkish Airlines has been flying to Somalia daily for years.

So how much did authorities in Turkey know?  Was Daallo Airlines aware of said threat?  And the flight crew aboard.  What an interesting lot.  The pilot – a 64 year-old Serbian Pilot Vladimir Vodopivec.   He performed his role perfectly and must be lauded for bringing everyone but Borle back alive.    

With Moscow now firmly one of Ankara’s sworn enemies, and a Russian plane bombed out of the sky over Egypt, there are some who think think there’s more to this story than meets the eye.  Al Shabaab’s silence can either be explained by being embarrassed by failure,  or because someone else planted the bomb.

Where was Borle going?  Why was he in a wheel chair?  What device was he carrying?  Did he know that the laptop contained a bomb?  If he was a bomber why did he make the mistake of pulling the pin at 14000 feet instead of 33000 feet where the pressure differential would have probably torn the plane apart.  Or not?

What we can say with certainty too is that the Airbus airframe held together in a remarkable way despite the explosion and a hole torn in the fuselage.  There is also something really sinister about the count-down form in the name of the flight: