Following the new restrictions that came into force on March 25 and banned passengers from eight mainly Muslim countries from carrying devices larger than a mobile phone in hand luggage, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad have decided to offer laptops, tablets and handling services on all their US-bound flights.
This is a very good news for business travellers as they will be able to download their work on to a USB before boarding, and continue working once airborne. The new services offered by the carriers aim at minimising the impact of the electronic device ban introduced by the US and UK at no extra cost for passengers.
Passengers travelling in Etihad’s business and first class cabins will be offered free Ipads and wifi service on all of the carrier’s US-bound flights from Abu Dhabi from April 2. Cabin crew will distribute wifi vouchers along with the onboard welcome drink, providing free connectivity for the duration of the flight. Ipads will also be available to those that need them.
Emirates has introduced a laptop and tablet handling service for its flights to the US so that passengers transiting in Dubai will be able to use their devices on the first part of their journey, and at Dubai International, before handing them over at the gate, where they will be “carefully packed into boxes, loaded into the aircraft hold, and returned to the customer at their US destination”
Tim Clark, president Emirates said: “Our aim is to ensure compliance with the new rules, while minimising disruption to passenger flow and impact on customer experience. Our new complimentary service enables passengers, particularly those flying for business, to have the flexibility to use their devices until the last possible moment”
Qatar Airways has announced that it will provide a laptop computer loan service to business class passengers affected by the ban and will be offering a special service at the gate for all passengers, whereby any electronic items prohibited by the new ban are collected and securely packaged. These are then tagged, loaded as check-in baggage and returned on arrival in the US.
Additionally, the airline is providing one hour’s free wifi to all passengers and a special wifi package of US$5 to stay connected for the duration of the whole flight.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Akbar Al Baker, said: “As an award-winning and global airline we truly appreciate the importance of being able to work on board our aircraft, and that is why I have insisted on offering only the best possible solution for our customers.”