A Guide to Airport Internet

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Traveling through an airport often results in lots of waiting around and killing time.

Luckily, most airports have WiFi these days (in America, at least), meaning you’re never more than a few clicks (and perhaps your credit card details) away from getting online and checking the local news, sports results, your email inbox or whatever it is you like to do online.

With the rise of smartphone and tablets (such as the iPad), you can now go online without having to bring your bulky laptop along with you anymore, making airport WiFi big business.

Some airports charge for WiFi, whereas others give it away for free. On this page we’ll take a look at both, as well as how you can charge your laptop in the airport and why airline club lounges might be the place to go for computer users.

Free Airport Wi-Fi

While you should never expect free WiFi at an airport (unless you already know that it offers it), a lot of major US and international airports (such as Las Vegas, Denver and Fort Lauderdale) offer their visitors WiFi completely free of charge.

There can be problems with free WiFi, however, as sometimes the signal strength will be poor (in certain parts of the terminal), or you may find the speed to be extremely slow.

Also, some airports have a policy of allowing you to surf for free for a certain amount of time before proceeding to charge you.

For a full list of which airports offer free WiFi, check out WiFiFreeSpot.com.

Note that airports’ WiFi/internet policies change all the time, so it’s worth double-checking on the airport’s official website before leaving.

Airport Internet

Pay-Per-Use Airport WiFi

In airports where you need to pay for WiFi, you’ll typically be charged around $8 to $10 for a full day’s usage, you can pay for it with your credit card.

Of course, a pay-per-minute/hour rate would be a lot more favorable (since you’ll rarely be spending an entire day in an airport), but sadly most airports don’t offer this.

If you’re a frequent traveler, you might want to sign up with Boingo. For a monthly payment of $59 (or $9.95 if you only want to use US WiFi) they’ll give you access to WiFi in over 400,000 worldwide locations (including most airports).

Airline Lounges

Fancy getting complimentary drinks and snacks and having a comfortable chair to sit on as well as free WiFi?

That’s the benefit of gaining access to the airline lounge – a private place where only ‘elite’ status travelers and those willing to pay for the privilege are permitted entry.

So how do you get into an airport lounge? Unless you have ‘elite airline status’ (which you probably don’t unless you have a zillion Airmiles), you can pay for a daily pass (usually around $50) or for an annual pass (which costs anywhere between $280 and $500+ a year).

Before buying a daily pass, it’s worth checking on eBay to see if anyone’s selling one on the cheap. Because people often buy their passes in advance, if they don’t need them they’ll often put them up on eBay for a fraction of the price.

For more information and reviews on airport lounges from around the world, check out LoungeGuide.net.

Charging Your Phone/Laptop

Unless you bring a spare battery or two along with you, at some point you’re going to need to charge your laptop/phone.

Many of the airports that see a lot of business travelers (such as JFK and Chicago O’Hare) have ‘charging stations’ that you can use to charge your laptop or phone.

Not all airports have charging stations, but it seems that the majority of the more popular ones do these days.

Using Wi-Fi in the Air

Many airlines have added in-flight WiFi to their planes (with more to follow), providing a seamless internet experience for passengers.

At this moment in time, Virgin American and AirTran are leading the way, as they’ve both upgraded their entire fleets with WiFi capabilities. Several other US and international airlines have began to follow, and it won’t be long until most carriers have some kind of on-board WiFi service.

The downside of in-flight WiFi is that it is rarely free (expect to pay anywhere from $5 to $13, depending on the length of your flight) and connectivity can be a bit sketchy at times) as you’d expect when flying at 35,000 feet.


Related posts:

  1. How Accessible Is Internet Access Whilst Traveling?
  2. A Guide to Sleeping in Airports
  3. The 10 Best (and Worst) Airport Terminals in the World




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