The reason you’re being asked to imagine the horror of air travel with no electronics is that counterterrorism officials here and abroad are reportedly considering just such a restriction in response to heightened concerns about bombs in carry-on luggage.
That’s on top of considering a ban on carry-on luggage.
From an NPR story:
Another possible remedy: banning electronic devices from the passenger cabin. Officials are discussing whether to require that electronics such as cellphones, iPads and computers be placed in the cargo hold with checked baggage, which goes through a much more rigorous screening process. Detecting a bomb, if there is one, would be more likely.
Those of us of a certain age do not need to imagine air travel without personal electronics because we can remember such travel. It was not so terrible. Actually, it had a number of upsides, not the least of which was that the difficulty of conducting meaningful work in a cramped airplane without an electronic device meant that employers did not expect much meaningful work to be conducted during those hours in the air.
There are no such excuses today, at least not at the moment.
But what if counterterrorism forces here and abroad get their way and you can no longer have access to your laptop or Kindle while flying from here to abroad?
What if your child can no longer use his or her video game device?
What if the children in the seats in front of and in back and across the aisle from you are so deprived … for hours?
What if last-minute phone calls before take-off and first-minute phone calls upon landing are no longer possible?
What if everyone on the plane will now have to crowd around the already crowded baggage carousels?
Oh, sure, airport newsstands will become gold mines, and that in turn may temporarily spare a print periodical or two from extinction.
But overall the prospect of flying without electronics will strike most as, well, unimaginable.
And that’s before we even begin to address the question of how to break the news to Alec Baldwin.