28 Mar

Anyone read a good book lately?

Following the device ban on selected airlines, ABTA's Sean Tipton covers travel insurance and old forms of entertainment.

Anyone read a book lately?

Could you go on holiday without your laptop or tablet? I suggested this as a possibility to some of my colleagues earlier this week and was met with disbelief and horror. Clearly for a very large proportion of us, this is simply not an option. Why was I making this heretical suggestion? It was not out of a desire to recommend a digital detox, the joys of conversation or reading a book, no, it was on the back of the UK government banning laptops, tablets and larger smartphones in cabins on inbound flights from six countries - Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Tunisia.

The ban was introduced due to serious concerns about the possibility of explosives being placed in these kinds of device. Once switched off and placed in the hold, any explosive device cannot be remotely detonated.

So, if you are travelling to and from one of these countries you can either leave your laptop at home or you can check it in to the hold. Now, quite apart from being impossible to live without, an iPad or similar device is not cheap. Baggage handlers can often be quite rough with the cargo they move around and there is a risk of theft - lots of expensive laptops would be very tempting.  Baggage can be also lost. No worries you say, I will be able to claim on my insurance if something goes wrong.

Stop right there. Insurance companies often take the view that if you have acted in an irresponsible way placing yourself or your belongings at risk, they will not accept a claim. Placing valuables in the hold often comes into this category. So make sure that your policy will cover you, if needs be, pay a higher premium to guarantee cover.

You may well have a claim against the airline for compensation because of their obligations under the Montreal Convention, the international agreement that governs many Air Passenger Rights. But, compensation often relates purely to the weight of anything that has been lost, so this would be unlikely to cover you for the full value of a replacement for your much loved tablet.

In recent years, airlines have been progressively phasing out in-flight entertainment screens on the back of seats as so many people bring their own on board. If the laptop ban is here to stay, we may well see back seat screens make a comeback. I can’t see many passengers putting up with hours in the air with only a book and that overly chatty bloke in Row C to keep them company.