While the in-flight electronics ban prohibits items larger then mobile phones on U.S. bound flights, it does not specify how airlines must implement the ban. Emirates has come up with a clever solution: gate checking larger electronic devices.
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.
Great news in theory, though I can imagine this might be a logistical nightmare. Emirates does not presently have security at the gate, meaning some form of a second security check will become necessary. My guess is that we will see careful checks of carry-on bags on jet bridges.
This probably would have been necessary with or without the new laptop/iPad “gate check” option because the central security checkpoints at Abu Dhabi and Dubai are not optimized to check boarding passes and segregate USA-bound passengers.
A Viable Plan to Gate Check
While the threat of theft would remain, a specially-designed “gate valet” cart similar to the way bags are checked on regional flights in the USA could provide more secure transport. Here’s how I envision it — create a special cart with a fiberglass enclosure that can be locked. Like a coat check, give each passenger a claim ticket and then lock the cart before loading it.
At landing, Emirates representatives in the USA would be waiting just outside the jetbridge to return personal electronic devices by carefully matching claim tickets to ensure the numbers match.
A perfect solution? Certainly not. But I do appreciate that Emirates is trying to make this ridiculous ban as unobtrusive as possible by ensuring that its guests, especially its premium guests, can use their banned in-flgiht electronic devices until the point of boarding. I’ll provide an update on how Emirates will implement its gate check program.
Emirates Reminder: We Have Great IFE
Whatever the solution, there will be no laptops onboard. Emirates has released a new Jennifer Aniston commercial touting its vast in-flight-entertainament library:
It’s true…between sleep and movies the flight will still quickly pass.
(tip of the hat to Point Me to a Plane)