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Emirates promises VIP service for some fliers’ larger gadgets

Why it matters to you

If you're flying to the U.S. from one of the airports affected by the ban, it's good to know how different airlines are dealing with the issue.

Regulations imposed by the Trump administration last month meant that passengers flying from particular airports in the Middle East into the U.S. had to check any electronic devices larger than a smartphone.

This left many fliers having to decide between leaving their pricey laptop or tablet at home, or leaving it out of their sight when they boarded the plane and hoping it would be there, intact, at the other end. The rules were put in place in response to an apparent terror threat, though few details have been revealed about the potential risk faced by travelers.

Emirates is one of the carriers affected, and it has been quick to tell its customers not to worry about putting their gadgets in the hold for U.S.-bound flights.

The airline is now operating a kind of VIP service for larger tech items such as laptops, tablets, cameras, and portable DVD players that have to go to the hold for the flight. A video posted this week on YouTube highlights the new “electronics handling service” launched in response to the U.S. ban.

So instead of tucking your tech in between your socks and underpants inside your suitcase and hoping for the best, Emirates promises to “pack, label, and seal your devices” in the departure lounge, just before you board one of its U.S.-bound aircraft. The gear is packed and handled separately from other luggage, and is returned by staff in the baggage hall when you show your boarding pass and ID.

The video shows plenty of cardboard boxes, bubble wrap and labels, the clear message being that it intends to take care of your tech while it’s out of your hands, and return it to you in one piece when you arrive at your destination.

Of course, that doesn’t solve the problem that for many people, it’s rather annoying to have to give up your tablet or laptop before you board. Understanding that some people need to work during their journey, the airline has started handing out Microsoft Surface tablets equipped with Microsoft Office to first-class and business-class passengers so they can complete important tasks at 36,000 feet.

Available for free on all non-stop flights from Dubai to the U.S., passengers are able to “download their work on to a USB which can be brought on board and plugged into the devices to continue working seamlessly.”

We’re not sure how comfortable customers will be with working on a device that they have to hand back at the end of a flight, but for some it could be a useful solution until the ban is lifted.