Middle Eastern airlines find alternatives to US device ban

Qatar and Etihad now offer in-flight iPad and laptop loans for US-bound flights

Qatar Airways and Etihad have moved to alleviate passenger inconvenience over the US electronics ban by offering laptop and iPad loan schemes.

With Emirates Airline recently announcing its own workaround to circumvent the ban – by avoiding direct flight routes and offering last-minute device stowing – its regional rivals have launched the business class-only loan feature.

Qatar Airways dubs it the “business as usual” service, whereby passengers can load up a USB stick with all important documents and use a loaned laptop for the entire duration of the flight, with free unlimited wi-fi included, before saving their work back on to the laptop before disembarking the plane upon reaching the USA.

Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker made a point of not-so-subtly calling out one the airline’s biggest rivals for being too reliant on its existing in-flight services.

“Whilst other airlines have relied on their existing on board offering to comfort passengers we have not rested until we could offer a true solution to our passengers,” he said.

Meanwhile, Eithad has taken to offering all Premium passengers free iPads for US-bound journeys, available from Sunday April 2. It didn’t go in to any further detail over the functionality of the iPads on offer, so we’re not totally sure if this is an offer for business-grade tablets equipped with professional software and apps, or whether it’s chocked full of games to keep the little ones entertained. We’ll wait and see.

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