Surprise! Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Not Airplane Friendly

Rich Tehrani : Communications and Technology Blog -
Rich Tehrani
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Surprise! Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Not Airplane Friendly

Whether you think the Surface Pro 3 is a good product or not depends a great deal on the applications you plan on using and the specific needs you have. It is better than an iPad and a MacBook Air in many ways and also worse. While I have had about a week to use the device I have found it is a lot more productivity-inducing than an iPad Air if you get tremendous volumes of email like I do. Specifically, Outlook 2013 is a much better interface than the email client on an iPad.

Two reasons I’ve touted for purchasing a Surface Pro 3 are it is a laptop replacement that you can keep in your laptop bag as you travel through security and on the airplane during takeoff and landing.

I recently had a chance to test how the travel industry would deal with my new device on a trip to France.

On the way their I was in the TSA Pre line where laptops aren’t required to come out of the bag so I wasn’t able to test the reaction to this device. Moreover, it was a red-eye so I decided to sleep instead of working.

The way back was a different story.

I left the SP3 in the bag when placing it on the X-ray belt but they made me take it out. French security was very tough – they examined every protein powder I had on me (four different kinds) and asked me what they were. Once satisfied that these powders were in-fact not harmful, they turned their attention to my jump rope. I thought for sure they thought it could be used to choke someone but no, they were concerned the metal handles could be used as weapons. It was confiscated.

When taking off from the airport in France, there were no requests to turn off devices which I found odd. No one even checked to see if we were using gadgets. When we landed I was told I had to shut the Surface Pro 3 down. I protested in a polite fashion and then removed the tablet from the keyboard to prove it was a tablet and not an “evil” laptop. The flight attendant seemed quite surprised by my actions – she said she had never seen a tablet that large and told me to use it with keyboard off until she went further towards the back of the airplane.

Weird, huh? Nonetheless, I did get to use it on the flight and was able to eke about nine hours of battery life by being judicious with screen brightness and only lighting the keyboard barely, when needed.

Bottom line is two solid reasons that a traveler might have to purchase an SP3 over a laptop have yet to fully materialize. Perhaps it will just take time as the travel industry, TSA and global equivalents figure out what this thing is. In the meantime though, it may behoove Microsoft to actively start educating the proper authorities – FAA, etc. so its customers don’t have to do the educating for them.

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