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April 4, 2017

Air Travel: Free Laptops on Qatar Airways, Plus a Host of New Flights

qatar airways laptop loan editorial

This week in air travel airlines continue to deal with the impact of the electronics ban as a number of new flights make their debut around the world. 

Electronics Ban: The Latest

In response to the new ban on large electronics on flights to the United States from eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa, Qatar Airways has announced a new “Laptop Loan” service that will provide business travelers with a replacement laptop to work on during their flight.

The free laptops are available to Business Class passengers traveling on all U.S.-bound flights. Customers will be able to download their work onto a USB before boarding, after which they will pick up their laptops. For all passengers, the airline is offering a service at the gate whereby any electronic items prohibited by the new ban will be collected and securely packaged, tagged and loaded as check-in baggage before being returned to the customer upon arrival in the U.S.

Additionally, Qatar Airways is providing one hour of free Wi-Fi for all passengers and a special Wi-Fi package of $5 to stay connected for the duration of the flight.

Speaking of the electronics ban, this week the International Air Transport Association (IATA) called for the governments of the United States and United Kingdom to develop alternatives to the new policy. 

In a speech to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations, IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said that the new measures are not an “acceptable long-term solution to whatever threat they are trying to mitigate.”

"With the measures now in place, our passengers and member airlines are asking valid questions,” said de Juniac. “Why don’t the U.S. and the UK have a common list of airports? How can laptops be secure in the cabin on some flights and not others, including flights departing from the same airport? And surely there must be a way to screen electronic equipment effectively? The current situation is not acceptable and will not maintain the all-important confidence of the industry or of travelers. We must find a better way. And governments must act quickly."

The IATA also criticized the way in which the new policy was announced. The ban was first announced by one of the affected airlines, Royal Jordanian, on Twitter late on the afternoon of March 20. Government officials did not confirm the new policy, as well as the full list of airlines and airports affected by it, until the next day.

"The industry came together quickly to implement the new requirements. That was a challenge because there was no prior consultation and little coordination by governments," said de Juniac.

New Flights

In new flight news, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has begun operating three roundtrip flights a week to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. The new KLM service supplements three daily flights between Amsterdam and Minneapolis operated by Delta Air Lines, Air France KLM’s transatlantic joint-venture partner.

The new flight schedule will include departures from Minneapolis-MSP at 3:00 p.m., arriving in Amsterdam at 6:00 a.m. the following day. Flights will depart Amsterdam-AMS at 9:35 a.m. and arrive in Minneapolis at 11:20 a.m.

The flights will be operated using an Airbus 330-200 with 18 World Business Class seats, 35 Economy Comfort seats and 214 seats in Economy Class.

Meanwhile, the Switzerland-based airline Edelweiss, a sister company of Swiss International Air Lines, has announced it is expanding its route network to North America. From June 9, 2017, the airline will now offer seasonal flights between Zurich and San Diego.

An Edelweiss Airbus A340-300 will fly twice weekly between Zurich and San Diego, directly between the two cities. The new connection offers European travelers, especially those living in Switzerland, the ability to reach San Diego.

The route will be operated with an Airbus A340-300 that seats 314 passengers. 

Keep visiting www.internationalmeetingsreview.com for the latest air travel news that impacts the meetings and events industry. 

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