Thursday, 18 May 2017

Books in Flight

I have been directly affected by the UK ban on electronics arriving on flights from selected airports. I was ready for my holiday to Istanbul, having only recently been more open to reading on a Kindle, A Little Life loaded smugly onto my light weight e-reader complete with portable power pack and cable.

Leaving the UK is no problem, laptops, tablets, all manner of decadent electronics are allowed to fly through the air without alarm. My flight back to the UK was delayed for an hour as the land crew painstakingly searched and assessed every single bag. Mine was scanned twice for an electric toothbrush. Infuriatingly the delay was not the caused by the passengers, I arrived an hour before boarding and got through to the plane at 8:55. The scheduled take off time was 9am but looking at the queue there was no way we were leaving soon. 

Although news articles and websites were clear about tablets and laptops it was not until the morning of my flight that I received notification that portable battery packs (and hard drives by the way) above a certain size were not allowed in hand luggage OR in checked luggage. I put mine in the hold and didn't mention it. But several passengers had their batteries taken away. Where? Into a red cooler bag that the steward carried to the back of the plane cabin. So it's still in the cabin, not in the hold, and sitting next to a bunch of other electronics and batteries likely to blow. 

Aside from the general frustration at this inane attempt by the government to look like it is making an effort to stop terrorist attacks, which makes no technological sense at all, the difference on the flight was noticeable. I clearly think it is a pointless and unhelpful security measure, but I loved the reappearance of books, newspapers and magazines on the flight. More people slept on the flight than working, which probably made them happier on the other end. Although many people turned to their phones to play games, or detonate a device hidden in hold luggage (which is only scanned once and with no question about your destination), several people pulled out books. 

I'm not suggesting that some people don't always carry a book on a plane anyway, but without kindles I could see what everyone was reading, what language they were reading in, and how far they have got left to read. I loved it and used half an hour of the trip just snooping into other peoples book habits. The rest was powering through my current book while half listening to the family of five behind me reading a children's book together. 

I still sneer at the restrictions, but welcome back books!

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