updated 11:50 am EST, Mon December 28, 2009
International flights get reactionary security
The US Transport Security Administration late Sunday implemented new rules that are likely to have far-reaching implications for technology on planes. The security measures will ban those on international flights entering the US from having any "personal belongings" on their laps for the final hour of the flight, restricting notebooks and most other non-handheld devices. Access to carry-on bags is similarly restricted for the same period.
They also preclude use of any communications or entertainment integrated with the plane itself for the final hour of the trip. The step not only restricts traditional services for passengers like phones and seat-mounted TV but also shuts down Wi-Fi services provided by carriers entering the US.
Strictly domestic flights aren't affected by the restrictions and would let carriers like AirTran and Virgin America continue to offer services for nearly all of a given trip.
The TSA guidelines follow a failed attempt by a Nigerian man to use chemical explosives to bomb a flight inbound from Amsterdam and are accompanied by measures like required pat-downs and personal property inspections. Critics have already charged that the measures are "knee-jerk" measures that would do little to stop either the latest attack or other determined measures, such as an attack before the last hour of a long international flight. [via BoardingArea]