Etihad Airways has reassured passengers of its ‘highest level of service’ to minimise disruption following the introduction of a new US travel directive on electronic devices.
Effective March 25, passengers on all US-bound flights from, or transiting through, Abu Dhabi International Airport will not be permitted to carry electronic devices bigger than a smart phone or mobile into the aircraft cabin.
Items such as laptop computers, tablets including iPads, gaming devices, cameras and e-readers will be required to be placed in checked-in luggage. Medical devices are exempt and can be carried onboard.
“All Etihad Airways’ US flights have mobile and Wi-Fi connectivity, together with power and USB points at every seat enabling guests to remain connected through their mobiles and smart phones,” the explained said in a statement.
“And with an onboard inflight entertainment system offering hundreds of hours of free programmes, international movies, live TV news and sports channels, interactive games, and music in every seat, guests are able to keep themselves busy throughout their journey without the need of a laptop or tablet,” the airline claimed.
Etihad Airways is sending e-mail alerts to all US-bound travellers advising of the new directive. Signage is being placed at check-in desks at airports around the world where staff will inform guests to pack any prohibited electronic devices in their checked luggage.
US-bound passengers travelling via Abu Dhabi must check-in their electronic devices at the point of origin. The directive, issued by the US Transportation Security Administration, does not affect flights departing from the US.
At Abu Dhabi International Airport, all Etihad Airways guests travelling to the US clear US Immigration and Customs at the US Preclearance facility in Terminal 3 – the only one of its kind in the Middle East. When guests land in the US, they arrive as domestic passengers with no requirement to queue for immigration checks again. Due to the additional security measures, Etihad Airways will deploy more staff at the US Preclearance facility to provide assistance.
To avoid inconvenience, guests are encouraged to pack the prohibited items in their checked baggage prior to reaching the Preclearance facility in Abu Dhabi. Any prohibited electronic devices will have to be declared and placed in padded envelopes before being securely taken to the aircraft luggage hold by staff. Such items will be returned to guests on arrival in the US, while conveniently, other items of checked-in luggage can be collected at the final destination in the US.
Guests are also encouraged to avoid carrying spare battery packs larger than the permitted size as these will not be allowed in either the luggage hold or the cabin.
Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways Chief Executive Officer, said: “We remain committed to ensuring we provide guests the highest levels of service and quality experience that we are renowned for, at Abu Dhabi International Airport and throughout their journey to minimise the impact of the new measures.”
In addition to the onboard offering, all cabins have a selection of digital lifestyle magazines that can be viewed for free on a smartphone via the Wi-Fly homepage. Children receive a kid’s pack with games and toys, and there is a Flying Nanny on board to assist parents.
At Abu Dhabi International Airport, passengers have access to free Wi-Fi. Guests travelling in the premium cabins can use Etihad Airways’ lounges. First and Business Class guests are also able to use the US Premium Lounge located after the US Immigration checks at Terminal 3.
While Abu Dhabi International Airport is not listed for a similar ban related to direct flights operating to the UK, enhanced security screening is likely for guests travelling to London, Manchester and Edinburgh.
Etihad Airways operates 45 flights a week between Abu Dhabi and six cities across the US – namely New York, Washington, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
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