Middle East

Laptop ban: Qatar Airways to loan laptops during flights

Banners shows laptop loan service by Qatar Airways Image copyright Qatar Airways
Image caption The airliner is the latest to try to work around the ban

Qatar Airways has said it is offering a laptop loan service to US-bound passengers to overcome a US ban on electronic devices on some flights.

The offer to business class travellers is the latest attempted workaround by affected airlines.

The ban applies to devices larger than a smartphone.

It covers inbound flights on nine airlines operating out of 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Turkey.

They include Qatar Airways, Etihad, Emirates and Turkish Airlines, which operate long-haul flights popular with business travellers who can no longer work on their laptops mid-flight.

Qatar Airways said in a statement: "Customers will be able to download their work on to a USB before stepping on board to pick up where they left off."

The airliner would also offer one hour of free Wi-Fi for all passengers and a $5 (£4) package for travellers who wanted to stay connected on their smartphones for the whole flight.

The laptop loan strategy is not the first attempt by airlines to overcome the restrictions:

  • Earlier this week, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad announced that it would offer free Wi-Fi and iPads on US-bound flights for passengers in first and business classes
  • Dubai-based Emirates said it launched a "handling service" for US flights, so customers could use their laptops and tablets until just before they board their flights to the US. Free Wi-Fi would also be available
  • A similar measure was announced by Turkish Airlines, allowing passengers to hand in their devices at the boarding gate

US officials justified the measure as a precaution against terrorism based on "evaluated intelligence". Large electronic devices are still allowed on board in checked baggage.

The measure applies to direct flights from Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, including Dubai, the world's busiest airport.

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