Background: The U.S. had introduced a ban – effective 25th March – on electronic items such as laptops, tablets and cameras for US-bound flights from Cairo in Egypt; Amman in Jordan; Kuwait City in Kuwait; Casablanca in Morocco; Doha in Qatar; Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia; Istanbul in Turkey; and Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. This is expected to affect the following airlines: Egyptair, Emirates, Etihad, Kuwait Airways, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, Royal Air Maroc, Saudia, Turkish Airlines
So far, Emirates is the first airline to come up with a workaround to this new ruling. I just received the press release today containing the following:
Emirates will introduce a new service to enable customers to use their laptops and tablet devices until just before they board their flights to the US.
Emirates customers travelling to the US via Dubai will be able to utilise their laptops and tablet devices on the first part of their journeys, and also during transit in Dubai. They must then declare and hand over their laptops, tablets, and other banned electronic devices to security staff at the gate just before boarding their US-bound flight. The devices will be carefully packed into boxes, loaded into the aircraft hold, and returned to the customer at their US destination. There will not be any charge for this service.
Passengers on US-bound flights starting their journeys in Dubai are encouraged to pack their electronic devices into their check-in luggage in the first instance, to avoid delays.
Customers should be aware that there will be a detailed search of all hand baggage on non-stop flights to the US from Dubai. They should therefore declare their devices before the search, or ensure their electronic devices are packed into their check-in luggage in the first instance.
Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline said: “Our aim is to ensure compliance with the new rules, while minimising disruption to passenger flow and impact on customer experience. Our new complimentary service enables passengers, particularly those flying for business, to have the flexibility to use their devices until the last possible moment.
“Once on board they can still stay connected on their mobile phones. Our historical data shows that on Emirates’ US flights, 90% of passengers using our onboard mobile and Wi-Fi connectivity services do so via their smart phones. Only 6% connect via their laptops, and 4% via their tablets. That is not to say that other passengers are not using their devices offline, but perhaps the silver lining to this is that they can now justifiably give themselves a break from their devices, enjoy our onboard service and catch up on the latest movies, music, and TV box sets that we have on offer.”
Emirates is working to ensure that its operations comply with the latest restrictions on electronic devices in the cabin, for when the rules take effect on 25 March. Emirates will deploy extra staff at the airport to ease and assist passengers, especially in the first days of the new rules being implemented.
In a gist, passengers will be able to use their devices up to and during their transit in Dubai, after which their laptops and tablets will be collected prior to boarding the US-bound flight and returned after they land. For business travelers, I suppose this is still better than not being able to use your laptops at all.
What are your thoughts about Emirates’ proposed workaround to the electronics ban to US-bound flights?