Long-haul flights can be uncomfortable at the best of times, but take personal electronics out of the equation and you have a recipe for a cabin full of grumpy passengers.
What’s more, many Gulf airlines depend on business travelers stopping over in airline hub cities in the Middle East, and are wary of the electronics ban hurting their bottom line.
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Qatar Airways says it will start offering complimentary laptops to business-class passengers on all U.S.-bound flights. Those in cattle class will be able to access one hour of free WiFi for use on their smartphones, or can choose to fork out $5 USD to enjoy WiFi for the entire flight, according to a press release.
The Doha-based airline is also offering a packaging and handling service at the boarding gate for all passengers wishing to turn in banned electronic devices. “These will be tagged, loaded as check-in baggage and returned safely to the customer on arrival to the U.S.,” the airline said.
Etihad Airways, which is based in Abu Dhabi and operates 45 flights a week to six American cities, says it will lend iPads to business-class and first-class passengers, as well as free and paid WiFi packages.
Etihad and fellow United Arab Emirates-based carrier Emirates will also both offer laptop- and tablet- handling services for all U.S.-bound flights. Passengers will be able to use their electronic devices for the first leg of their journey until they get to Abu Dhabi or Dubai, at which point they will be directed to a “re-packing point” before U.S. immigration screening.
Meanwhile, Turkish Airlines is taking a different approach by offering free WiFi only to those passengers who hand in their laptops and tablets, according to a March 28 tweet from the carrier’s CEO.
Elsewhere, some airlines that were spared by the electronics ban altogether were happy to trumpet their new-found competitive advantage:
— With files from Reuters
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