Almost a decade ago I wrote about my mobile office using an iPAQ 212 and foldable Bluetooth keyboard. With new requirements out of the US (and now the UK) around no laptops on board under specific conditions, if you still need to get work done while enroute or once you’ve landed, the modern equivalent of the above is still one of your options.
A couple of things that I’d pursue if the new “no laptop in cabin” ruling applies to you:
1. Foldable Keyboard. Since the devices allowed onboard can be “no larger than a mobile phone,” I’d be looking for a foldable Bluetooth keyboard that works with your devices. Microsoft sells the Universal Foldable Keyboard that supports multiple types of devices, and there are other alternatives too. You’ll have to ensure it’s foldable though, otherwise it will be bigger than a mobile phone. And then you’ll just have to ensure you have access to any files, documents and communications you need while disconnected from the network, but there are ways of doing that.
2. Get a Larger Mobile Phone. Get the largest mobile phone you are allowed, in order to maximum screen space. Something like the Apple iPhone 6/7 Plus, the Nokia 950XL (with Windows Continuum for docking to a larger screen and keyboard), or the largest non-exploding Samsung device you can find. I would previously have said the Galaxy Note, but anything with a 5.0″ or larger screen will suffice.
3. Google Chromebook. If your organisation is using Google G Suite, perhaps the answer is to travel without a laptop at all, and basically embrace the “disposable device” idea of the Chromebook. Have all of your data in Google’s cloud, and when you arrive in the United States, buy a Chromebook, login (and two-factor authentication is always a good idea), and get back to work. It doesn’t help with productivity in the air, but it does eliminate the risk of device loss or theft if it’s in your checked in luggage. You can take it back out of the US when you leave too.
4. Cheap Windows Laptop. If your organisation is using Office 365, and most of your data is there, take the same approach with a cheap Windows laptop on arriving States-side.
5. Cheap Apple Laptop. Ah sorry, that doesn’t exist. Would one of the new “cheap” iPad 9.7’s work?
6. Hardened Case. If you do want to carry your laptop in your checked-in luggage, now’s the time to protect it from as much physical damage as possible. If you have a Surface Pro 4, try the UAG composite case (UAG also has a range of similar options for Apple devices). Or if you don’t want a hard shell cover for the laptop itself, pack your laptop first into an SKB iSeries or Pelican Protector or Storm case.