Emirates To Let First & Business Class Passengers “Gate Check” Laptops Under Electronics Ban

by Enoch

The electronics ban that will prohibit the carriage of electronic devices larger than a smartphone on flights to the US will go into effect on March 25, 2017. Understandably, this is getting quite a bit of coverage, since it can potentially impact thousands of travelers who will fly through the affected cities.

Emirates is probably one of the airlines that will suffer the most under this electronics ban, due to their size and them being based in Dubai (DXB), one of the cities affected. They fly to 12 US destinations, with a number of them having multiple daily flights. Emirates released a video soon after the electronics ban was made public, promoting their in-flight entertainment system ICE.

Emirates will reportedly allow passengers in premium cabin to carry their electronic devices past security, and collect them before boarding. Source: Emirates

Emirates will reportedly allow passengers in premium cabin to carry their electronic devices past security, and collect them before boarding. Source: Emirates

But now it looks like Emirates might be going one step further in minimizing the disruption the ban might bring passengers. The Department of Homeland Security does not specify how the ban needs to be implemented, as long as the end result of “no devices larger than a smartphone in the cabin” is achieved. To that end, Emirates will reportedly allow passengers to take their larger-than-smartphone devices past security, and then collect them right before boarding commences. Bloomberg reports:

The state-owned carrier is planning to permit devices affected by the ban within the security perimeter to allow passengers, particularly those flying in premium seats, to use laptops and tablets until the last possible moment, it said in an email. The airline will then take the items for storage in the cargo hold until arrival.

Obviously, this doesn’t eliminate a number of potential problems with this ban. Passengers still won’t be able to watch their own content on their tablets, and they still won’t be able to work on their laptops. Concerns for theft and damages to devices also won’t go away, nor will hazards that portable batteries in cargo hold might pose. Additionally, this special accommodation is likely to be limited to Business and First Class passengers, due to the logistical efforts required.

But for those seated up front aiming to squeeze productivity every last minute out of their time on the ground, this is one solution. If Emirates is going to stow away all the devices in one dedicated spot, perhaps it might act as an added peace of mind for those concerned about checking these valuables. Presumably, this will also make retrieval easier once the plane lands, which I think will be the most noticeable benefit for me.

The United Arab Emirates is not part of the UK ban, so passengers on UK-bound Emirates flight can continue to bring their electronics onboard.

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George March 22, 2017 - 8:31 pm

So the airline will depend on passengers to identify their electronic devices to the staff at boarding? Why? Because we trust terrorists to do that? That defeats the entire purpose and underscores how the UAE dismisses security threats.

JaySeeDub March 23, 2017 - 4:49 am

@George I don’t know about you, but when I’ve flown through the Middle East, my carry on is still inspected and my electronic devices are still given a once over (please turn them on, sir) through security. What changes between security and the lounge or cafe that is dismissive of the security threats?

And if there’s a genuine, credible threat, then why aren’t other Airlines affected by the US electronics ban? American Airlines flies to and from Doha, Air New Zealand flies to Cairo from LAX, Singapore flies JFK/ORD to IST.

Brian S March 23, 2017 - 9:37 am

I think what George is getting at is how do you ensure that people are turning over their banned electronics before they board? Are they flagging those people at security and then searching them at the gate to make sure they turned over their laptop?
And now that I think about it what is preventing non-US bound passenger from bringing electronics through security (as they are allowed to do) and then just giving it to someone on a US bound flight?

Enoch March 23, 2017 - 9:47 am

Hi Brian! Really valid points. With a ban of this magnitude, and involving cities that aren’t exclusively serving flights to the US, I imagine that there wil; be an additional “electronics screening” procedure at the boarding gates in general, sort of like what you’d see in Asia when boarding a US-bound flight as they check for liquids. Passengers who haven’t checked their devices will have to surrender them, or perhaps in Emirates’ case, “gate check” them.


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