Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways have both launched electronics loaner programs for passengers, flying in upper-class cabins on certain routes. The move comes after both the United States and the United Kingdom banned inbound travelers flying from a number of Middle Eastern countries from carrying electronic devices larger than a smartphone into the cabin.
Qatar Airways announced today that it will loan laptops to its business class customers on US-bound flights. Passengers can use USB flash drives to store their work, while banned electronic items will be collected at the gate prior to boarding and loaded on the plane as checked baggage. Upon arrival to the US, the electronics will be returned. Qatar is also offering one hour of free Wi-Fi to all passengers, with a $5 fee for Wi-FI across the length of the flight.
Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, announced earlier this week that its first and business class passengers will be offered iPads for use during flight, as well as free Wi-Fi for their smartphones.
It’s a clever way for the airlines to provide a competitive advantage, even as passengers are seriously inconvenienced because of security measures. A flight from Doha, Qatar to New York City can run more than 13 hours, which is a long time to go without a laptop or iPad, especially for business travelers.
The carry-on ban was put in place after security concerns were raised about electronic devices with explosives packed inside them.