EU to Discuss Electronics Ban; Emirates Offers New Handling Service

European Union flags waving in front of the EU Parliament building in Brussels
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Officials in the European Union (EU) have announced plans to meet next week to assess the new ban on laptops and other electronics larger than a cellphone on flights from eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa, The Guardian reports. The EU Commission, the executive arm of the EU, said that it wants to hear more about the intelligence that informed the ban.

The government of the UK had announced a similar ban Tuesday shortly after the U.S. ban. Thus far, EU officials have said that they are not aware of plans from any other EU member states to impose a similar policy.

Meanwhile, Gulf carriers affected by the ban are implementing new policies and a PR blitz aimed at blunting the effects of the ban.

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Emirates has announced that it will offer a free new “handling service,” in which travelers will be able to use tablets and laptops during the first leg of their journey and at the gate, Fortune reports. Then, just prior to boarding, travelers will be able to hand over the electronics to security staff, who will pack them into boxes and load them into the aircraft hold. Travelers will then get their electronics back at their final destination.

“The airline industry is no stranger to new security protocols, and as a global player, we must expect and adjust to these unexpected situations,” Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline, tells Travel Agent. “Emirates is highly resilient. Yes, this new security measure is disruptive and operationally challenging in several regards, but I am optimistic we will get through this.”

The airline has also released a cheeky YouTube video touting its in-flight entertainment options for travelers who won’t be able to watch movies and TV on their laptops during the flight:

In a similar vein, Etihad Airways has posted a “Make Flying Great Again” ad showing off its onboard dining and entertainment options.

“Safety and security remain the highest priority for Etihad Airways and we will continue to assist passengers in complying with this directive,” the airline said in a statement provided to Travel Agent.

Royal Jordanian, which was the first airline to announce the ban on Twitter, has issued a list of “12 things to do on a 12-hour flight with no laptop or tablet.”

Airlines have until Saturday to start enforcing the restrictions, The Hill reports. If they refuse to comply, the United States could revoke their certificate to fly to the country.

In the meantime, what should travel agents be telling their clients? In addition to being aware of the list of airports and airlines affected by the electronics ban, now may also be a good time to educate clients on the ins and outs of insuring electronics during flight. Experts Travel Agent spoke with tell us that many policies may not cover the full cost of electronics that are stolen or damaged during flight – here’s a list of quick travel insurance tips on the new electronics ban to share.

Stay tuned to www.travelagentcentral.com for the latest updates on the electronics ban and other air travel news.