How Emirates, Etihad, Qatar are responding to the electronics ban

By David Flynn, March 31 2017
How Emirates, Etihad, Qatar are responding to the electronics ban

Faced with a ban on any carry-on technology larger than a smartphone on direct flights to the USA, the big 'Middle East Three' airlines are finding innovative ways to work around this incredible disincentive for business travellers.

The sweeping ban – which covers everything from noise-cancelling headphones to ebook readers, tablets and laptops – affects almost a dozen counties, but it's the Gulf powerhouses of Emirates, Etihad Airway and Qatar Airways who could be hardest hit.

Read: How Australian travellers are affected by the USA, UK laptop bans

Emirates now allows travellers to use their laptops, tablets, ebook readers and other such devices until just before the board that flight to the US.

The devices are handed over to Emirates staff at the boarding gate, where they are carefully packed into boxes, loaded into the aircraft hold, and returned to the customer at their US destination. The service is being offered free of charge.

Emirates also notes that on flights to the US, "90% of passengers using our onboard mobile and Wi-Fi connectivity services do so via their smart phones."

Etihad is handing out free iPads to all business class and first class passengers – but yes, you do have to give them back at the end of the flight – along with vouchers for free access to the airline's inflight Internet service.

Qatar Airways is going a step further with free laptops. Business class and first class travellers are offered the loan of a MacBook Air on all US-bound flights, and can download any work done during the flight onto a supplied (and Qatar Airways-branded) USB key before handing the laptop back.

Need to jump online to use cloud-based services such Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365? There's one hour of free Internet access for all passengers plus a special $5 deal covering the length of the entire flight.

Passengers can also use their own prohibited laptops, tablets and such through to boarding the flight, when – in a system similar to that of Emirates – the kit is collected, securely packaged, tagged, loaded as check-in baggage and returned on arrival to the US.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


11 Jul 2014

Total posts 966

             Trump that

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jan 2017

Total posts 10

All sounds like a great idea

26 Feb 2017

Total posts 5

Only flights to the US? What about the UK? Do you know if they're offering the same service?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 9

The UK hasn't banned devices on flights from the UAE and Qatar.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Dec 2011

Total posts 95

Thats fine and dandy. But, what about the business traveller in economy. They are there believe it or not, they will not be able to do any work. What data security is there with regards the loan computers? I can't imagine doing a 2500 word submission or essay on an IPad. 

This is, I believe a disaster for people who need to work, during flights, and a greater disaster for the airlines. 

14 Sep 2013

Total posts 14

Hmmm, trust me to have an upcoming flight on Etihad and they are the one airline of the 3 ME ones which don't offer to securely pack electronic items and give them back on arrival...

02 Apr 2017

Total posts 1

This is a stupid ban created by na?ve politicians. If I were a terrorist I would just fly to the UK, buy a laptop, turn it into a bomb, then blow it up on the flight. Most terrorists are not from the Middle East. Furthermore, by the US banning UAE and Qatar flights, it seems that it is just a way for legacy carriers to win back flyers

07 May 2016

Total posts 17

Can someone please explain the difference in risk between a laptop that has been security checked and is in a carry-on bag and the same laptop in a checked bag? Undetected explosives in either could go off in flight. Or could a plastic gun be concealed undetected in a laptop, but not concealed undetected in something else that's permitted in carry-on? Give us some reasons that make sense, otherwise we think it's to commercially disadvantage middle eastern airlines. 

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