79 percent of travel managers indicate that travel to the United States, to Europe and through European hubs would be reduced should an expanded laptop ban be instituted, according to a new report from the Business Travel Coalition (BTC). Half said that travel demand would fall more than 25 percent.
The results are from a four-day survey by the BTC of 112 corporate, university and government travel managers regarding a potential U.S.-imposed inflight electronics ban from European airports. Travel managers from the UK, Spain, U.S., Germany, Ireland, Finland, Belgium and France participated in the survey.
“The survey results should illuminate the economic risk of such a ban on electronics that are larger than a cell phone and encourage the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to collaborate with travel industry stakeholders to identify, test and deploy risk mitigation solutions short of a ban on laptops and tablets,” said BTC Founder Kevin Mitchell in a written release.
The survey also found that 60 percent of respondents’ travel policies prohibit laptops from being checked. 16.7 percent of those respondents’ organizations indicated that they would consider changing their policy should an expanded ban go into effect, while 25 percent said no and 58.3 percent said that they were unsure.
83 percent said that the biggest impact to productivity would be if travelers were unable to have access to their laptops during a multi-day business trip. 12.5 percent were concerned about lost productivity during a flight.
85 percent of those organizations that prohibit checking laptops said that they have not considered or implemented workaround solutions for their travelers who would potentially lose access to their laptops during a business trip due to an expanded ban, while 15 percent said that they have considered different solutions.
Should the ban go into effect, 62.4 percent said that they would be very likely (41.6%) or somewhat likely (20.8%) to seek alternative airlines or routes to reach their recommendations. 50 percent said that they would be very likely (25%) or somewhat likely (25%) to switch back to more time-efficient transit over Gulf hubs.
In the event of an expanded ban, 66.6 said that they would be very or somewhat likely to make more use of video conferencing and other technologies.
“If the restriction makes travelers safe and reduces the likelihood of a catastrophic terrorist event we will support any inconvenience,” one survey respondent wrote.
“The ban would be dramatic for both business and leisure travelers, and be considered a very heavily hostile action against travelers,” another wrote. “We expect bankruptcies in travel organizations due to this implementation.”
“Why not simply utilize bomb-sniffing dogs, or allow laptops for known travelers who have been vetted for Global Entry, Nexus or TSA PreCheck?” asked another.
The laptop ban currently applies to 10 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Last week’s meeting between U.S. and European Union (EU) security officials ended with multiple conflicting reports on the ban’s future. Some media outlets said plans to expand the ban were “off the table” for now, while others indicated an expansion was imminent. Security officials are due for another meeting in Washington, DC, this week.
The survey was conducted online from May 19 to 22.