One Middle Eastern airline targeted by new U.S. rules banning computers on certain flights has responded by offering first and business class passengers complimentary use of a tablet computer with internet access while on board.
Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways made the announcement on Wednesday, noting that so-called Premium passengers will be welcome to use the service as of Monday. Economy-class passengers are not included in the promotion.
“In addition to free Wi-Fi, we’ll have iPads available on all U.S.-bound flights for those that need them. Power and USB sockets at every seat will keep devices charged throughout the journey,” Etihad said.
The move is a reaction to news last week that new U.S. rules would ban the use of electronic devices larger than a cellphone in cabins on all U.S. bound flights from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa.
The move was viewed by some as a backhanded way of targeting airlines such as Etihad and Emirates, which have taken business away from U.S. carriers in recent years.
No U.S. airlines fly direct to any of the listed airports, which may compel a traveller to reroute via indirect flights on U.S. or European carriers. Etihad’s move is aimed at keeping those customers loyal to them.
The U.S. ban applies to 10 cities in eight countries, including:
- Kuwait City
- Abu Dhabi
The U.K. has placed similar restrictions on direct flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.
Turkish Airlines, also targeted by the ban, announced last week that passengers would receive free Wi-Fi on in-flight entertainment devices starting Saturday.
Hand in your tablets/laptops during boarding to USA and use our free inflight WIFI service starting on March 31st. pic.twitter.com/LoqMOAapij