Carrying a laptop from Tunisia

By | Category: Travel news

As readers know, I have been in Tunisia, one of the countries affected by the UK government’s ban on carrying phones, laptops and tablets larger than a length of 16.0cm, a width of 9.3cm and a depth of 1.5cm as hand baggage.

How did it affect me assuming that I will be typical of any person arriving in the UK from Tunisia?

At check-in at Tunis-Carthage Airport, I wasn’t asked whether I had a laptop but before that I had passed through security. All airport visitors who want to enter the terminal must put all their bags through a scanner in order to gain entry and I suppose they would have spotted my laptop packed in my case. It was quite a small case, one which would have been allowed on the plane in other circumstances so, at that stage, they wouldn’t have known whether it was hold or cabin baggage.

After check-in, you go through passport control and have your passport stamped as having exited the country. Then came the most time-consuming baggage check.  (It takes much longer than gate security does in Frankfurt, Paris, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore for example) At each gate, all hand luggage is opened and checked and each flyer has a pat-down. A laptop would be noticed at this stage. Your mobile phone is taken from you and placed in a wooden frame to make sure that it is below the size requirements. What would happen if it was oversized I don’t know since no person that I witnessed (about thirty) had anything that caused the authorities concern.  (allow at least twenty minutes to get through this part of the exit process.)

On landing at Gatwick, I went through the automated passport control so there were none of the usual questions about where I was travelling from. After collecting hold baggage, I went through the “Nothing to declare” lane and left for the train. In all, it took me no longer than usual to get through the system)

But pack your electronic devices carefully. A colleague who flew back last Tuesday packed his I-Pad in a hard case but, on opening it when he had returned home, found that the glass had smashed. Baggage handlers have to move luggage speedily so that flights can be turned around quickly. Sometimes they don’t handle all baggage as though it was fragile.  If you do take larger electronic devices to and from the named destinations, pack them surrounded by plenty of padding like your clothes or take some bubble wrap with you for this purpose.

I have to say that I didn’t take my working laptop but an old robust spare so that if it had got damaged, I wouldn’t have cried over its loss. I had also e-mailed to myself all the work I had done in Tunis so that I had that bit of “insurance” as well.

And talking of insurance, so far, I am aware of only one company that has said that they would cover electronic devices in hold luggage. Many still say that you should carry these items as hand baggage or they wouldn’t be covered. Check the small-print to see what your position is.

With the precautions I have suggested, passengers shouldn’t find that it will take them any longer to get through security than it does at present.

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