In a continued drive to tackle the imposed electronic ban on certain flights to the UK and the US, airlines are working around the issue of bringing aboard nothing larger than a smart phone in a myriad of ways.
Turkish Airlines has quickly adopted a simple fix, similar to Emirates, by allowing passengers to use their laptops and tablets until boarding the aircraft, whereby they will be packed away and returned to the passengers after landing in the baggage claim area. In a bid to enhance the passenger experience and allow passengers to still use their smartphones in-flight, the carrier is now also providing free Wi-Fi on all US bound flights from Istanbul to those who have to hand over their devices.
Another carrier, Qatar Airways, has also adapted its product offering to respond to the electronics ban. Now by lending laptops to premium-class passengers inbound to the US, their most important business-class consumers can continue to work on the long-haul flights. It recommends passengers to download their relevant files to USB sticks just before boarding, where they will receive a complimentary computer which is returned before the end of the flight.
Etihad on the other hand, hasn’t gone as far as to offer laptops, but they are loaning out iPads – and similar to Turkish Airlines – offering free internet to their premium passengers. While this ban may be of huge inconvenience, it will most likely lead the way to increased complimentary Wi-Fi usage and in turn, a better passenger experience for those using the flight simply to relax and unwind. We look forward to seeing over the coming months if complimentary Wi-Fi on these airlines will become as standard for premium passengers.
There is also action from the affected airlines, with the CEO of Turkish tweeting his support for IATA’s call to governments to find alternatives to the electronics ban. “The current measures are not an acceptable long-term solution to whatever threat they are trying to mitigate. Even in the short term it is difficult to understand their effectiveness. And the commercial distortions they create are severe. We call on governments to work with the industry to find a way to keep flying secure without separating passengers from their personal electronics,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
We will be flying with Turkish Airlines early next month and will be trialling the service as we fly to the UK. Expect a trip report covering this experience next month.