(Adds comment by Qatar Airways CEO, background)
DUBAI, March 30 Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways
are lending some passengers laptop computers and tablets to use
on board following the U.S. ban on most electronics devices from
being taken into the cabin on United States-bound flights.
On March 25 the U.S. authorities banned electronic devices
larger than a mobile phone from being taken into cabins on
direct flights to the United States from 10 airports in the
Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, including Qatar and the
United Arab Emirates.
Qatar Airways said on Thursday complimentary laptops would
be available to business class passengers travelling to the
United States from next week.
Business class passengers will collect the laptops just
prior to boarding, where they will also be able to hand over
their own devices to be stowed in the hold with checked-in
luggage, the Doha-based airline said in a statement.
Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker said the service allowed the
airline to offer a "business as usual" service, despite the
Similarly, Etihad is lending tablets and offering unlimited
wifi to business and first-class passengers travelling on
U.S.-bound flights, according to an email seen by Reuters sent
to frequent flyer members on Tuesday.
The Abu Dhabi-based airline previously said passengers could
hand over prohibited devices at the gate in order to minimise
Emirates is also considering loaning devices to passengers
travelling to the U.S., President Tim Clark was quoted as
telling Bloomberg on Monday.
The airline was the first of the major Gulf airlines to say
its passengers could hand over devices immediately prior to
The restrictions, prompted by reports that militant groups
want to smuggle explosive devices in electronic gadgets, state
that electronics larger than a mobile phone - including laptops
and tablets - must be stowed with checked baggage on U.S.-bound
Industry experts have warned the ban could weaken passenger
demand for the Gulf carriers on U.S. routes.
Gulf airlines rely on business-class flyers stopping over in
places like Dubai or Doha for far-flung destinations and the ban
risks pushing passengers to travel with airlines not affected.
Al-Baker said on Monday it was too early to tell if there
had been an impact on demand.
Emirates said booking rates on U.S. flights fell 35 per cent
after President Donald Trump's first travel ban which like the
electronics ban only applied to Muslim-majority countries.
(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell in Dubai, Tom Finn in London
and Stanley Carvalho in Abu Dhabi; Editing by Greg Mahlich)