In mid-March, the US hastily instituted an indefinite ban on electronic devices larger than a cellphone from being carried on to the flights of nine Middle Eastern airlines. Reportedly, it was to prevent terrorists from sneaking an explosive-laden fake iPad into the cabin, though few details on the specific threat have emerged in recent weeks. To compensate travellers for the hassle of spending hours on a flight without their trusty laptops, Emirates has begun offering complimentary Microsoft Surfaces for the durations of affected flights.
Specifically, all flights from Dubai to the US will offer this service. Since TSA regulations now insist that large electronic devices be stored in the cargo hold for the duration of the flight, travellers will be allowed to bring a USB stick with their personal files for use with the tablets. You’re probably not going to want to copy any files to the hard drive though, since the Surfaces will be collected as you deplane.
Emirates isn’t the only airline taking these sorts of measures. Earlier this week, Qatar Airways debuted a similar complimentary laptop service. It does raise the question, however: is it more a bigger security risk to put an unknown USB into your personal computer or put a USB with your personal info into an unknown computer?