In response to the new ban on large electronics on flights to the United States from eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa, Qatar Airways has announced a new “Laptop Loan” service that will provide business travelers with a replacement laptop to work on during their flight.
The free laptops will be available to Business Class passengers traveling on all U.S.-bound flights starting next week. Customers will be able to download their work onto a USB before boarding, after which they will pick up their laptops. For all passengers, the airline is offering a service at the gate whereby any electronic items prohibited by the new ban will be collected and securely packaged, tagged and loaded as check-in baggage before being returned to the customer upon arrival in the U.S.
Additionally, Qatar Airways is providing one hour of free Wi-Fi for all passengers and a special Wi-Fi package of $5 to stay connected for the duration of the flight.
The move follows a number of responses by airlines to the new policy. Emirates is also offering a handling service in which passengers can keep using laptops and other large electronics during the first leg of their journey and at the gate, before the devices are collected as part of the boarding process.
The ban has also drawn criticism from major travel industry organizations, with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) calling on governments to develop alternatives to the electronics ban.
“The current situation is not acceptable and will not maintain the all-important confidence of the industry or of travelers,” said IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac in a recent speech to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations. “We must find a better way. And governments must act quickly."
The electronics ban was also on the agenda during the U.S. Travel Association’s recent day on Capitol Hill, in which the organization conducted more than 300 Congressional meetings and presented members of Congress with mousepads designed like welcome mats with the slogan “Welcome Legit Travelers,” in a move aimed at promoting tourism to the United States.
Travel agents with clients that might be affected by the ban can keep an eye on the list of airports and airlines affected here. For clients concerned about the safety of their electronic devices while they are traveling as checked baggage, we’ve compiled a list of quick travel insurance tips regarding the new electronics ban to share.