March 30, 2017
Qatar Airways Offering Free Laptops on US Flights
It’s been about a week since Middle-Eastern airlines began implementing the new electronics ban on direct flights bound for the US, and airlines are scrambling to minimize the financial impact of the ban. As a reminder, passengers on flights from 10 Middle-Eastern airports to the US must check any electronics larger than a cellphone, like tablets, cameras, and laptops, before boarding the plane. This affects some of the world’s biggest carriers like Qatar, Emirates, Etihad, and Turkish.
Qatar just announced that it will start giving free loaner laptops to business class flyers on these flights so they can stay connected in the air. Qatar Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker said; “By providing this laptop loan service we can ensure that our passengers on flights to the US can continue to work whilst on-board. This unique ability to offer ‘business as usual’, above and beyond the competition, is yet another example of Qatar Airways justification for being the ‘World’s Best Business Class’.”
The laptop loan program will start sometime next week and passengers will be able to download their work to a USB before boarding. You’ll be able to collect the loaner laptop at the gate before boarding the aircraft.
It looks like Qatar will also start allowing passengers to hold onto their electronics all the way to the gate. “Qatar Airways is offering a special service at the gate for all passengers, whereby any electronic items prohibited by the new ban will be collected and securely packaged. These will be tagged, loaded as check-in baggage and returned safely to the customer on arrival to the US.” Finally, Qatar is providing one hour of free Wi-Fi for all passengers on US bound flights and a $5 package to stay connected for the entire flight.
Collecting the electronics at boarding is great in theory, but there’s few details as to how it’ll work in practice. What is the procedure for picking up your items when you land in the US? What security measures are Qatar implementing to ensure nothing in stolen? They’ll presumably have to check thousands of dollars worth of electronics at the gate.
It’s great that Qatar and other Middle Eastern airlines impacted by this ban are coming up with creative ways to keep their flyers happy. They’re implementing these accommodations just a week after the ban was implemented. I was considering flying Qatar business to Boston this summer but I changed my plans after the ban was announced because I need my laptop on board and I won’t check it in luggage. The loaner laptop gives me a laptop to use onboard, which is great. Now my only concern about whether or not to fly Qatar is the security involved in gate-checking the electronics. If they’re kept locked in a secure location for the flight, I’d be open to flying Qatar. Will you be flying Qatar to the US after the electronics ban?
All Images Courtesy of Qatar Airways