THE ban on taking large electronic devices into plane cabins, imposed on March 20th by United States on flights from ten Middle Eastern airports, is a particular headache for the four “superconnector” airlines. Etihad, Emirates, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines, like many carriers, depend on premium travellers for their profits. Those in business-class cabins like to get work done on long journeys; that is difficult without a computer. But, as their epithet implies, these airlines are also unusually dependent on on connecting traffic. By one estimate, 60% of Emirates flyers use Dubai as a layover on the way to somewhere else. As of last week, travellers heading, for example, from New York to Mumbai, must now choose between a superconnecter flight on which they will be without their tablets and laptops, or connecting through Europe on a European or United States airline which is not affected by the ban. (Or, perhaps, an Emirates flight connecting in Milan, which would also be exempt.) It is a fair bet that many are choosing to avoid the Middle Eastern hubs.

It felt a…Continue reading