How Middle Eastern Airlines Have Responded to the Laptop BanBy
Middle East airlines scrambled to find ways to respond to a ban on electronics introduced this week. The ban targets direct flights headed to the United States and United Kingdom. Some, like Royal Jordanian Airlines, tried to calm or even attract customers through humor, while others, such as Turkish Airlines, boasted about their in-flight entertainment.
Royal Jordanian showcased its poetry skills through an original haiku on Twitter, urging people to travel to the U.S. while they can. It also tweeted out a list of things passengers can do without a laptop or tablet, including appreciating the "miracle of flight", wrestle for territory on the armrest, and think about the meaning of life. Royal Jordanian didn't respond to inquiries requesting comment.
This isn’t the first time the airline has reacted comically to U.S. politics. The airline mocked U.S. President Donald Trump last month after a federal judge lifted a travel ban on people from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
But Emirates Airline took another approach and updated a commercial starring Jennifer Aniston. "Who needs tablets and laptops anyway?" the company asked.
Turkish Airlines followed suit, and shared an advert to celebrate passengers having watched more than 2 billion minutes of entertainment while flying over the year. The airline is expected to make an announcement on the ban in the next few days.
Beyond the humor, and the reminder that sometimes it can be nice to just sit back and relax on a flight, airlines have worked to minimize the impact of the electronic ban on passengers.
Emirates plans to allow passengers to use laptops and tablets until the last possible moment before a flight, Emirates Airline President Tim Clark said in an email. Once they're done, users have to declare and hand over banned electronics to security at the gate. The airline will then carefully pack the devices into boxes, load them into the aircraft hold, and return them to passengers at the U.S. destination. "There will not be any charge for this service," it said in a press release.
But this may not keep everyone happy. "A 10 hour business class flight is a working day for me. I need my laptop," a user said on Twitter.
Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, a United Arab Emirates-based columnist, said the ban is a pretext to stifle competition from Gulf airlines, and to "encourage U.S. bound passengers to fly on American carriers."
There isn’t much that the carriers could do but comply, he said, suggesting that airlines could "allow passengers to convert the screens on the back of seats into a laptop screen, and offer them blue-tooth keyboards to connect their mobile phones." But that would carry its own security implications.