April 5, 2017 / 9:40 AM / 8 months ago

Emirates joins Etihad, Qatar in U.S. cabin laptop ban workaround

DUBAI (Reuters) - Emirates airline said on Wednesday it would start lending first and business class passengers tablets in response to the U.S. ban on most personal electronic devices from passenger cabins of United States-bound flights.

Signs point to the Emirates Airlines check in desks at JFK International Airport in New York, U.S., March 21, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

On March 25 the U.S. banned electronic devices larger than a mobile phone from cabins on direct flights to the United States from 10 airports in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, including the United Arab Emirates.

Emirates is introducing the service to mitigate the inconvenience of the ban on passengers, the Middle East airline said in a statement. The service started on Wednesday.

The decision follows similar measures introduced last week by Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways, which are also affected by the ban.

The restrictions, prompted by reports that militant groups want to smuggle explosive devices in electronic gadgets, state that electronics larger than a mobile phone - including laptops and tablets - must be stowed with checked baggage on U.S.-bound passenger flights.

Industry experts have warned the ban could push premium business and first class travelers to carriers not affected by the ban.

Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways are also allowing passengers to hand over their personal devices immediately before boarding.

Reporting by Alexander Cornwell

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