How will academics be affected by the recent UK/US electronics ban?

“Remember that if needed you can rent or borrow equipment when you reach your destination”

Rowan Burnett, supplier relationship executive at Diversity Travel, a travel management company that specialises in travel in the not-for-profit and academic sector, provides advice for travellers following travel restrictions announced this week.

This week, both the UK and US governments announced a cabin ban on certain electronic devices on inbound flights from countries across the Middle East and North Africa, with immediate effect.

The ability of academics to travel internationally is crucial for academic institutions around the world. A fantastic opportunity from a commercial perspective, as a means of expansion, collaboration, and partnering with a global network of peers, travel allows academics to develop a truly global mindset, improving the breadth and quality of their course material, and bringing huge benefits to students.

But now, in response to suspected terror threats, there have been changes to travel legislation on both sides of the Atlantic, which have, in some cases, left travellers confused as to what they need to do to reach their destination safely and in compliance with the new guidelines.

So, how will this latest development affect academic travel? Here are my top tips on what academics need to think about before they embark on their journeys:

Check whether your route is affected:
• Remember that there are different restrictions in place in the UK and the US – currently nine airlines are affected for the US, but 14 for the UK
• Reports have suggested that other European countries are considering similar restrictions, so make sure you keep on top of announcements in the media

Check the current state of play:
• Check the current status of the changes – this can be found by:
o Checking the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website if you are in the UK
o Checking government websites for the country you intend to travel to
o Checking with your travel partner, who can also prove to be a source of information throughout the booking process and your journey

Only take what you need:
• It sounds like common sense, but remember that if needed you can rent or borrow equipment when you reach your destination – it is worth looking at what options are available to you before you travel
• If there is equipment you have to take with you and has to be checked in, find out whether you are eligible for any additional discounts or allowances through academic fares – many airlines have good relationships with travel management companies who can offer this as a solution

Talk to your airline:
• If there is anything you are unsure about, check with the airline you booked with
• If you booked through a price comparison website, the booking will most likely have been processed via a travel agent or booker – be prepared for the airline to redirect you to them in the first instance
• Airline websites will usually communicate major changes through a corporate statement or on social media if there are any sudden changes you need to know about
• If you use a TMC, take advantage of the close, long-standing relationships they have with airlines, as they are ideally positioned to field and answer most common questions and concerns

Remember to keep your employer informed of your whereabouts:
• Whether or not you agree with the restrictions, the primary reason for their introduction is to ensure the safety of passengers
• Duty of care is something that is important to all employers when staff travel for business: make sure your employer knows you have landed safely, particularly if you have booked your tickets independently