Etihad to lend iPads to US-bound passengers
One Gulf carrier affected by the ban on most electronics in the cabins of US-bound flights will lend iPads to its top-paying travellers.
Etihad Airways said on Wednesday that it will offer the tablets to US-bound passengers in first and business class, along with vouchers for free onboard Wi-Fi starting on April 2.
The US government last week barred passengers from 10 Middle Eastern and North African cities from carrying electronics larger than cell phones onto US-bound flights. Medical devices were exempted.
Etihad's hub in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, was among the cities affected.
The government-owned carrier operates 45 flights a week to six American cities: Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington.
The airline did not say whether its iPad lending scheme will also be applied to flights to the UK, which has imposed a similar electronics ban.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association of the world’s airlines, has slammed the ban, calling it an unacceptable "long-term solution to whatever threat" the US and UK governments are trying to mitigate.
Since the US and UK bans were announced, and consequently come into place, affected airlines have reacted in different ways.
Royal Air Jordanian has posted a series of posts on its Twitter handle poking fun at the ban.
Qatar Airways' chief executive has claimed that the ban is not "targeting Gulf carriers" and is a security measure that airlines have no choice but to comply with.
Emirates has taken the opportunity to emphasise the inflight entertainment it has to offer, replete with a new advert fronted by former Friends actor Jennifer Aniston that asks: "Who needs laptops and tablets anyway?"
Emirates has also introduced a service that enables US-bound passengers to use their laptops and tablets until just before boarding.