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March 31, 2017

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Gulf airlines lend laptops to get round ban by US

QATAR Airways and Etihad Airways are lending some passengers laptop computers and tablets to use on board following the American ban on most electronics devices from being taken into the cabin on United States-bound flights.

The US authorities on March 25 banned electronic devices larger than a mobile phone from being taken into cabins on direct flights to the US from 10 airports in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, including Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Qatar Airways said yesterday that complimentary laptops would be available to business class passengers traveling to the US from next week.

Business class passengers would collect the laptops just prior to boarding, where they would also be able to hand over their own devices to be stowed in the hold, the Doha-based airline said. Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker said the service allowed the airline to offer a “business as usual” service, despite the restrictions.

Similarly, Etihad is lending tablets and offering unlimited Wi-Fi to business and first-class passengers traveling on US-bound flights.

The Abu Dhabi-based airline previously said passengers could hand over prohibited devices at the gate in order to minimize the disruption.

Emirates is also considering loaning devices to passengers traveling to the US, said its president Tim Clark.

The airline was the first of the major Gulf airlines to say its passengers could hand over devices immediately prior to boarding.

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 US-bound passenger flights.


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