In response to laptop ban, Etihad offers free iPads on flights

Etihad Airways’ business class luxury seats on its Airbus A380. The airline has started to offer its business class passengers free iPads to be used on its US-bound flights. Source: Shutterstock

TO help cushion the blow of the recent laptop ban on select routes, Etihad will lend out free iPads and WiFi to first and business class passengers.

The airline said in a statement: “In addition to free WiFi, we’ll have iPads available on all US-bound flights for those that need them. Power and USB sockets at every seat will keep devices charged throughout the journey.”

The move was in response to the recent US ban on carry-on electronic devices on planes coming from certain airports in Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

SEE ALSO: Laptop ban potential blow to airlines banking on business travelers

The US Department of Homeland Security said passengers traveling from a specific list of airports could not bring into the main cabin devices larger than a mobile phone such as tablets, portable DVD players, laptops and cameras.

Meanwhile, Qatar Airways introduced a program to loan out laptops to business class passengers while other passengers across all seat categories will receive free WiFi for an hour following by a discounted hourly access of US$5.

Airlines have expressed concerned about the implications of the ban, namely among the rapidly growing Gulf airlines that bank on business travelers.

Gulf powerhouse Emirates president Tim Clark, president told CNN, “To suggest Dubai doesn’t have the equal capabilities or better than the Europeans, the Americans and the Asians in terms of search, interdiction and surveillance, I find amazing.”

SEE ALSO: Laptop ban not meant to hurt Gulf airlines – Qatar Airways

Some have viewed the ban as an unfair target at Gulf airlines that have “taken business away from US carriers” in recent years.

Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways have been battling a lobbying campaign in Washington by US carriers that accuse them of receiving unfair subsidies, charges the Gulf carriers deny.