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Make Flying Great Again

The Trump administration’s recent implementation of a policy banning large electronic devices, including laptops and tablets, in passengers’ carry-ons on flights departing from the Middle East, has airline companies scrambling.  The mainstream providers, including Emirates, Turkish Airways, Etihad, and Qatar, are now on the defensive, as they try to not lose their market share of long-haul flights to the United States.  More localized airlines, such as Air India, are greedily eyeing others’ shares, as they can provide flights to American that connect in China or Japan.  The Middle-Eastern airlines’ fears are not without evidence, as Turkish Airlines’ stock fell about 7% when the electronics ban was announced in the United States.

As such, many of the airlines have started marketing campaigns, attempting to reassure customers that they do not really need personal computers or Kindles to have an enjoyable in-flight experience. The quality of the advertisements vary demonstrably; one of the better, more notable examples is Etihad Airway’s commercial entitled “Make Flying Great Again.”  This commercial puts the perpetrator of the new American policy, President Donald Trump, in its sights, while also highlighting the multitude of benefits that comes with flying with their airline, such as in-flight wi-fi for cellphones, reclining seats, and premium meals.

Other airlines take a, perhaps, more traditional route by using famous actors and actresses in their commercials, in order to entice more customers.  In a brief, eighteen-second advertisement posted on Twitter, Emirates uses Jennifer Aniston to highlight the seat-back entertainment on their flights.  However, Emirates’ piece incited a good amount of backlash; an employee from the International Middle East Center tweeted, “@emirates journalists aren’t looking to be entertained on long flights.  Laptops are necessary to meeting a deadline.”

The United States has its reasons for banning large electronic devices on carry-ons from the Middle East; whether these reasons are morally just or not is a different story.  Intelligence agencies have recently thwarted several bomb threats, and they are in fear of a particular bomb-maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, whom they say is incredibly cunning in his designs. Regardless, it is a difficult situation for many airlines, and all of the Middle-Eastern airlines are attempting to spice up their image, in order to not lose any market share or profits.  However, there is some hope on the horizon.  Even if the United States does not repeal this ban, airlines can start providing their customers with loaner laptops. Qatar Airways has already begun this service for its business-class passengers, and it is easy to assume that many more airlines will follow in its footsteps.  While this program is not ideal, it will lessen the already uncomfortable experience for travelers.



  1. childresss19 childresss19

    I believe that if the Trump administration continues to adopt policies that harm the business interests of other countries, eventually these countries will retaliate however they can. Simultaneously, I understand the security concern that arises from interactions with the Middle East. I believe that there is a middle ground that will result from more thoughtful policy.

  2. Jordan Krasner Jordan Krasner

    This is an example of how unexpected government policies can hinder an industry or sub-industry. There was really no way these airlines could have planned for this but it is important that they try to be as nimble as possible in their response to President Trump’s policy and try to maintain a positive of a customer experience on their flights as possible. The practice of loaning out laptops for the flight should be a good attempt here since in today’s cloud dominated era, everyone’s files are available online.

  3. zhengm18 zhengm18

    ^ I am in with Sam on that one, I was actually shocked to see that happened. At least now we know that Trump is not just bluffing all the time. In regards to the actions of the airlines, I think their ability to innovate around marketing and time is reflective of their adjustment abilities. If anything, it seems as if this is an opportunity for the smartest airline to profit from the hindrance.

  4. Alex Niemann Alex Niemann

    Could some of these large Middle Eastern airlines not pull a similar strategy to the localized airlines like Air India? If these airlines can simply connect in China or Japan, why can larger airlines like Etihad and Emirates not also connect elsewhere? I suppose even with this strategy they would lose money, since they probably already provide flights to closer destinations, and they would still be losing demand for those flights that would be bound for the US.

  5. As mentioned above, the resiliency of the airlines to market their flights in light of the electronics ban is particularly incredible. However, the message sent by blocking electronics on these flights seems to be anti-business. I understand these are not Trump’s direct intentions, but a large number of people traveling to the U.S. from these areas to conduct business will now be severely inconvenienced. Not only will it inhibit people from getting work done on the plane (Professor Smitka mentioned in class how he can get emails done while in offline mode), but it also prevents them from quick access to particular information a person may need. Providing laptops during the flight for “entertainment” is one things, but I feel like a large portion of people who need their laptops for work are now experiencing a massive inconvenience.

  6. bannisterw17 bannisterw17

    March’s point on this news being an opportunity for the smartest airlines to profit is very true. It seems that if this ban holds, then the program to loan laptops to customers seems to be the best response. The company that succeeds in implementing and marketing this program best may stand to gain serious market share in the face of the original adversity of the ban.

  7. parkerk18 parkerk18

    As people above have stated, loaning out laptops to consumers is a solid business response to this surprise ban, but I’d be interested to see if ticket prices are still the biggest factor in choosing flights. I imagine that the number of people who absolutely need laptops on their flights is not a majority, and that laptop use tends to be more of a convenience than necessity. Therefore it wouldn’t surprise me if ticket prices still were the driving factor in sales rather than laptop provisions.

  8. aeschlimand19 aeschlimand19

    The efficacy of this ban seems questionable and ignores the realities of terrorist behavior, since passengers can simply fly to European countries like London, Paris, and Amsterdam to reach the U.S. Trump’s ban seems rather confounding because it assumes that terrorists can’t switch carriers or take flights on American carriers. Furthermore, the ban allows laptops in hold but not in cabin, which doesn’t seem to make much sense when similar detection technology is used for both. Perhaps the motivations that underlie this ban has more to do with economic protectionism than national security.

    Three of the airlines that have been targeted for these measures- Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways- have long been accused by their U.S. competitors for receiving massive subsidies from their governments. Trump’s ban may be an act of economic retaliation, as it pushes valuable business class customers to U.S. airlines. As Sam mentioned earlier, it is possible that this move made by Trump may trigger similar acts of retaliation in the Middle East.

  9. kirschnerk18 kirschnerk18

    I understand the backlash from journalists as time in the air can be extremely valuable, especially in situations where they need to meet a deadline. This shouldn’t be taken lightly as a small minority group either. I imagine that journalists are often going in and out of the area as there are obviously many things to report on. However, entertainment purposes shouldn’t be a big issue. I’ve been on a few international flights where they actually give you iPads loaded with tons of movies and tv shows.

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