With the help of Turkish Airlines, I successfully navigated the laptop ban on my journey from Istanbul to New York.
After arriving at Ataturk airport and printing my boarding pass, I hauled my two backpacks and bag of Turkish delights to the check in counter. While on line, an airport staff member asked to see my boarding pass and passport. I told him I had a laptop. He said, “Okay, so you will check it.” I knew about the ban in advance, so I did my research and confirmed that I could check my laptop at the gate, rather than relying on it being transported by unknown handlers in my own checked baggage. I responded, “No, I will bring it to the gate and check it there.” He then proceeded to lecture me on how it would take 30 minutes on each side to go through the process. He asked again if I still wanted to bring it to the gate. I said, “Yes, it is more secure.”
After finishing my chat with him, I went through the same conversation with another airport employee, this time a lady handling my checked baggage. She went through the same mood swing, starting out friendly, only to begin lecturing me on how it would take long on both sides.
By this time, I began to worry that I had made the wrong choice. “Maybe I should have just checked it,” I thought to myself. But it was too late and anyway, I wanted to test out the new Turkish Airlines procedures.
I went through security with no issues and then arrived at the gate. After waiting around for a while, I saw people begin to queue up. Here’s where the airport employees were telling the truth. The new process of searching everyone’s bags took what felt like forever. The boarding process became drawn out, as I waited on line for over an hour, just trying to get on the plane. But placing my laptop in my checked baggage, like the airport employees had recommended, wouldn’t have saved me anytime. I imagine they were frustrated, since the need for checking everyone’s carry-on bags for laptops necessitates additional staff members being involved in the boarding process. Our plane departed an hour late and although I cannot be sure, I believe this was partially due to the now delayed boarding process. However, at the end of the day, I felt much better about putting my laptop into bubble wrap and then in the locked Turkish Airlines suitcase.
In terms of convenience, the laptop ban is certainly not great for business. The flight was 10 hours and I would have loved to have had access to my laptop, since I had to do my school readings on my Samsung Galaxy instead, which did no wonders for my eyes. I imagine this will hurt the company’s profits, considering so many fly business class from Istanbul to America.
Still, given the circumstances, Turkish Airlines did its best. Once I arrived and made it through customs, I entered the baggage claim area and walked over to the Turkish Airlines employees waiting for all of the folks who individually checked their laptops. After three minutes, I had my laptop, cold from being in the baggage hull, but better than ever.
More importantly, I gained a great deal of respect for Turkish Airlines. The company’s seamless response to the laptop ban actually makes me more inclined to fly with them in the future. Bravo!