The air bearing surface is critical to the spacing control in current hard disk drives (HDDs). Thermal protrusions, including thermal flying height control (TFC) and writer coil protrusion, drive the reader/writer elements closer to the magnetic media. The spacing control actuation efficiency depends on the air bearing push back response after the TFC or writer protrudes. In the next generation hard disk drive technology, heat assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), laser induced protrusions further complicate the spacing control. The laser induced protrusions, such as the localized NFT protrusion and a wider change of the crown and camber, have very different dimensions and transient characteristics than the traditional TFC and writer protrusion. The dimension of the NFT protrusion is relatively smaller, and the transient is much faster than the TFC protrusion. However, it is found that the NFT protrusion is large enough to generate an air bearing push back effect, which changes the read and write spacing when the laser is powered on. To accurately control spacing in HAMR, this push back effect has to be taken into account.