Etihad Adds Free Wifi & Loaner iPads For Premium Passengers On US-Bound Flights

Filed Under: Etihad, Travel Technology

The US electronics ban has been in place for several days now, and we’ve started to see how airlines are dealing with the ban. Emirates, Etihad, and Turkish have all shared what they’re doing to try and minimize the impact this ban has on passengers.

After all, I don’t think anyone is a fan of this (well, perhaps other than the manufacturers of the boxes that airlines are using to gate check electronics).

While I’m avoiding Gulf carriers at the moment because of the inconvenience of being separated from my electronics, I actually feel pretty comfortable with the approach they’re taking, at least in terms of the risk of my electronics being lost, stolen, or damaged.

While it’s not a game changer, I think Etihad deserves some credit for adding free Wi-Fi and loaner iPads in first and business class on US-bound flights as of April 2, 2017.

Etihad-Arrivals-Lounge-Abu-Dhabi - 1

Per an email sent to passengers:

To help you keep in touch with work, friends and family, we are offering our First and Business Class guests free Wi-Fi and iPads on all our US bound flights from Abu Dhabi.

Wi-Fi vouchers will be provided by our cabin crew with your onboard welcome drink, providing free Wi-Fi for the duration of the flight. In addition, we’ll have iPads available for those that need them. Power and USB sockets at every seat will keep your devices charged.

Alternatively, just sit back, relax and enjoy hundreds of hours of inflight entertainment including the latest movies, TV series, boxsets, music, interactive games and seven channels of live sports and news.


While this doesn’t fully solve the issue of being separated from your electronics, at least I appreciate that they’re making an effort to minimize the disruptions that passengers face.

Etihad is already one of the best airlines about inflight wifi, as a 24 hour pass costs just ~$20, and has no data caps. I find their speeds to be pretty good, though perhaps that will be slowed down with so many people using the network now that Wi-Fi is free (then again, people using their smartphones aren’t generally using as much data as those using their laptops).

Well done, Etihad!

(Tip of the hat to @JonoH)

  1. FYI Lucky, Qatar has stated they are doing the same gate check of electronics that Turkish and Emirates are doing.

  2. This will ruin wifi speeds on board. They need a barrier to entry, because they don’t have the bandwidth.

  3. Phize> Because they are sterile iPads – equipment belongs to the airline. No different than in-flight remote.

  4. This is a brilliant if imperfect solution. Kudos to Etihad. I’m impressed and somewhat baffled at how they can so quickly set up a program like this.

  5. This is almost a brilliant idea, but surely loaner laptops would be more useful – people want to do work in business class and you need something with a keyboard. A basic laptop would be cheaper than an iPad and actually allow you to get some work done, assuming you bring a USB with files on it or use the wifi to access a cloud service.

  6. Maybe they read my comment here several days ago suggesting just this – free wifi and sterile loaner devices.

  7. But you still have to put the laptop in your checked luggage at the origination point (not necessarily AUH), where it will be stolen?

  8. Laptops, really? If the concern is with a cyber attack on aircraft systems rather than explosives (this is 2017, not the 1980s) then the USB stick gives the hacker all the tools they need. Locked down USB ports easily circumvented. Much more difficult to get your own code onto an iPads and far less effective toolkit to execute a cyber attack.

  9. @Phize
    Because the problem was never about iPads. It was about terrorists putting bombs IN iPads. You really can’t do that once onboard, can you? Heck if you have a bomb at that point, you might just as well not put it in the iPad and just go for it.

  10. Is anyone concerned about user accounts, passwords, PII, etc all being stolen from these iPads after use ? Seems like an easy target.

  11. But if these selected Muslim countries cannot be trusted to operate security that finds and stops explosives laptops, then how can they be trusted to properly vet the iPads used by EY? How can anyone be sure they are sterile?

    In fact it is all BS. The US has to be seen as doing something, since they can’t get their Muslim ban past the courts, can’t take away health care from those nasty poor people (should have been as easy as taking candy from a baby), and I bet they can’t pass tax reform either. Hey, at least they stopped laptop bombs from Muslim countries—now the bombers will need to change planes…

  12. “While it’s not a game changer, I think Etihad deserves some credit for adding free wifi and loaner iPads in first and business class on US-bound flights as of April 2, 2017.”

    Fair enough… But what about Economy, where the bulk of us fly?

    Also, I’m curious why airports like Abu dhabi are targeted for the ban given that they are a pre-clearance facility to begin with.

  13. What would you possibly do with a loaner iPad? Mine is filled with tv shies, books, and magazines I want to consume while in flight. If you hand me a loaner iPad it will have none of that. Seems pretty stupid to me.

  14. @ Mike Reiss, where did you hear this about Qatar? I am flying them tonight from the Maldives to US via Doha in business class. They have sent me 2 emails reminding me wbout the new US policy and I also checked their website. I cant find any mention of them doing something similar to Emirates. Would love to find s credible souce citing this before I start packing up my electronics this afternoon.

  15. @John S – my other comment is pending moderation because it has a link in it, but they DM’d me on Twitter when I asked. The specific text of their message:

    “Hi Mike, Following the new US cabin baggage policy, Qatar Airways has made special arrangements for all our passengers traveling to the United States from Doha or connecting via Doha.

    Passengers traveling with Qatar Airways can use their device(s) both on board into Doha, while in Transit, and up until they board their connecting flight to the United States.

    At the gates, all unauthorized devices will be collected from passengers, safely and carefully packaged and secured, and put inside the checked baggage compartment of the aircraft.

    To avoid any delays during boarding for US-bound flights, we recommend that all the devices are put in a secure bag and checked-in at the point of origin, particularly for passengers with short transit times. Thank you for reaching us!”

  16. @ Mike Riess Thanks for the info. Lckily I am on vacation and dont need to work on tonight’s flight so will just check in my laptop and ipad. Since I am on a connecting flight I am nervous that I would get to DOH and they would say something different. But I do travel on Qatar a few times a year so am very curious. I will post more info when I get back to the US to let you and others on this site know what happened at the gate.

  17. @Chuck…..sounds like you’re tired of winning.

    This ban is what professionals call “security theater”

    Just like that kid groped by TSA the other day, everyone complained about body image scanners so now TSA is allowed to grope anyone.

  18. @ Mike Riess
    In the boarding gate now at DOH for my flight to PHL. I didn’t see any mention of gate checking electronics so asked and they had no clue what I was talking about LOL. When I boarded my previous flight in MLE the local Qatar staff told me to check in all electronics and even put a zip tie on my suitcase to minimize the risk of theft. Thought that was a nice touch. But it doesn’t lool like, at least on this flight, that they are doing gate checks for laptops.

    On a related note, there were 4 passport checks at the gate instead of the usual 2 and my partner got the dreaded SSSS even though we both have Global Entry. I connect in DOH 2-3 times a year and the security has definitely increased since the administration change.

  19. @John S – interesting, thank you for following up!

    I can’t be without my electronics during the long layover… will do everything possible to not check at origin even if it means I have to check a carry on in DOH. Hopefully they will put out an official public statement soon and also improve current implementation… I also travel through DOH multiple times per year. I may cancel my later trip if this upcoming one goes poorly…

  20. Luckily I wont need to come this direction till late Summer. Hopefully by then they will have it worked out. The rule was poorly thought out. If I flew DOH-LHR-US they would let me keep my laptop. So if this is really due to a threat, the bad guys will just figure out they can take connecting flights. Seems like if the threat is legit, they should apply the rule to all inbound US flights. I hate BA and really dont want to have to fly them to India 🙂

  21. Yes Etihad is best to provide wifi during flight. 20 USD is a charge for up to Midnight pass with 180mb data.
    Quite a good deal

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