One friendly airline bought laptops to loan its passengers on flights affected by the Trump administration’s new electronics ban. The rule, which took effect on Saturday, forbids any device larger than a smartphone on flights to the U.S. from parts of the Middle East and North Africa.
Business travelers on Qatar will receive a USB device before boarding so they can download work from their personal computers. They’ll then have to pass their personal laptops to gate staff to be stowed with the plane’s checked baggage, and continue where they left off on the loaners.
Some of the nine airlines hit with the ban have responded with free Wi-Fi and iPads, but Qatar is the first to buy computers for travelers’ use.
The airline “has taken the notable step to purchase laptops available for loan on all of their U.S. flights, meaning uninterrupted productivity and service throughout their journey,” chief executive Akbar Al Baker said in a press release. “...We have not rested until we could offer a true solution to our passengers.”
Non-business travelers on Qatar will get an hour of free Wi-Fi and a special rate of $5 for access for an entire flight.
Meanwhile, Emirates launched its own gate-check service for laptops and tablets.
Etihad is offering free Wi-Fi and loaner iPads in some classes.
And Turkish Airlines is rolling out free Wi-Fi.
While the ban is inconvenient, aviation experts say it could be based on a legitimate threat. Kudos to these airlines for making the best of a sticky situation.