Etihad Offers Free Wi-Fi and iPads on US-Bound Flights From Abu Dhabi
Airlines are still in the process of figuring out how to deal with the recently-implemented electronics ban after it was announced last week that nine carriers flying from 10 Middle Eastern and African countries directly to the US would not allow passengers to carry on electronics larger than a smartphone. Airlines started enforcing the US Government-imposed rule this Saturday at 3:00am, which forced passengers to put any larger electronics into checked bags.
Since then, we've seen many of the affected airlines responding to the ban over social media, touting their in-flight entertainment systems to tide over anyone who may become bored on their long-haul flights without their personal electronic devices. Etihad, one of the airlines impacted by the new ban, recently sent an email to TPG reader Jonathan Haysom detailing how it will work to make the overall flight experience better for passengers.
According to Etihad's website, the airline will be offering complimentary Wi-Fi vouchers and iPads for business and first-class travelers to use (upon request) on all of its nonstop flights from Abu Dhabi to the US — there are power and USB outlets at every seat to keep the devices charged. A post on Etihad's Instagram account specified that these amenities will be available to passengers starting Sunday, April 2.
Other airlines, like Emirates, are allowing passengers to bring their devices past airport security and check-in, allowing them to use the electronics until they board — an Emirates agent will then pack the electronics into secure boxes and return them upon landing in the US. Emirates charges $1 for 500mb of Wi-Fi and offers the first 10mb for free — note that TPG contributor JT Genter, who recently flew from Dubai (DXB) to New York (JFK), described the Wi-Fi speeds as being "atrocious," probably because everyone else onboard was trying to use it at the same time.
TPG contributor Katie Genter detailed her experience trying to bring electronics onto a recent Etihad flight from Abu Dhabi (ABU) to Dallas (DFW). Despite the ban being so strict, she was able to get some of her electronics through that were larger than the specified dimensions (a Kindle Paperwhite e-reader) — but she also had some taken away (a $32 portable charger).
As more details and effects from the electronics ban emerge, the affected airlines will likely develop a game plan for better accommodating customers needs, especially business travelers who tend to work on their laptops throughout the entire flight. Stay tuned to TPG for the latest updates.