Qatar Airways, which has a daily flight between Philadelphia and Doha, the Qatari capital, said it will loan free laptops to business-class travelers on U.S.-bound flights in response to the U.S. ban on most electronics from eight Middle East and North Africa countries.
"By providing this laptop-loan service we can ensure that our passengers on flights to the U.S. can continue to work while on board," said Qatar chief executive officer Akbar Al Baker. Customers can download their work onto a USB before boarding.
Qatar said it will offer all passengers, including those in economy class, one hour of free Wi-Fi and for $5 travelers can stay connected for the entire flight on Airbus A350 aircraft operating on select flights to Philadelphia, Boston, and New York. Because most people's smart phones will be the only device they can take on board, the "offer will ensure passengers can stay connected and stay entertained," the airline said.
Etihad Airways announced last week that first-class and business-class passengers will have unlimited Wi-Fi and loaner Apple iPads on U.S.-bound flights. The Gulf carriers, including Emirates, said they will collect customers' laptops at the gate just before boarding and stow them in a secure place on the plane.
The recent ban requires passengers to put laptops, tablets, e-readers, DVD devices, and cameras in checked baggage when flying from airports in eight Muslim-majority nations. Travel experts said the regulation would cause business travelers, who rely on laptops during long flights and do not want to risk theft from checked luggage, to reroute trips through airports where the ban is not in effect.
The U.K. announced a similar ban on laptops and tablets on direct flights to the U.K. from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia, citing concern that explosives could be hidden in electronic devices.