It was revealed last month that passengers either coming from, or transiting in, a slew of Middle Eastern countries, would have to adhere to strict new conditions when it came to the sorts of electronics they were able to bring on board. Basically, any electronics larger than a smartphone (larger than 16cm (6.3in) long, 9.3cm (3.7in) wide & 1.5cm (0.6in) deep) will now have to be stowed, rather than brought on board.
The news has upset plenty of travellers, especially the large contingent of Business fliers who will use their flight as an opportunity to get work done on their laptops, and only adds to the already stringent security measures in place for travellers around the world. Those wanting to use their new Nintendo Switch on their flight may be equally disappointed.
Since the initial announcement, the ban has now officially come into effect. For those travelling to the US, there are nine affected airlines from eight countries (Turkey, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait). Meanwhile, the UK ban is effecting all flights from Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Lebanon.
In response, UAE Airline Emirates, who are only effected by the US ban, have detailed a new service that will ensure their passengers will be able to use their laptops and tablets until just before they board their flights to the US. [Editorial Update 6th April: They’ve since released this video to explain the service:]
Emirates passengers travelling the to the US via Dubai will be able to use their laptops and tablet devices on the first part of their journeys, and also during transit in Dubai. They will then need to declare and hand over their laptops, tablets, and other banned electronic devices to security staff at the gate just before boarding their US-bound flight.
The devices will be packed into boxes, loaded into the aircraft hold, and returned to the customer at their US destination, with no charge. Those unwilling to part with their belongings, but willing to add some extra miles to their journey, may also consider flying to the US with Emirates via Milan and Athens, who aren’t part of the ban.
The airline still is encouraging passengers to pack their electronic devices into their check-in luggage to avoid delays, but the news that the airline is offering the service should ease some concerns – especially for those who are using Dubai as their transit hub and have a lengthy flight beforehand.
Somewhat strangely, the ban doesn’t extend to flights originating in the US and travelling TO the Middle East and as such this is only applicable to the services from Dubai to the US.
[Editorial Update April 6th: Emirates First and Business Class passengers will now also be able to borrow tablets on board Emirates’ US-bound flights, allowing them to continue working during their flight. The service is complimentary and will be available on all non-stop flights from Dubai to Emirates’ US destinations.
Emirates premium customers will have a Microsoft Surface tablets equipped with Microsoft Office 2016 available for loan on board. Customers can download their work on to a USB which can be brought on board and plugged into the devices to continue working seamlessly.]
Note: This article was originally published on 24th March with an update on 6th April 2017.