Business Travel Advice

Finding Power at Airports

Finding power at airports is a challenge for business travelers. Here are a few way to improve laptop use at airports.

The days when an airport was just an airport are long gone.

Today's airports serve as shopping malls, food courts, and for business travelers, mobile offices. The problem is that someone forgot to tell the architects and finding power outlets for your portable gadgets can be a major challenge.

The current dearth of power outlets in airports has been caused by the convergence of a number of factors. When many airports were built, no one ever dreamed that passengers would have such extraordinary energy needs. The proliferation of electronic devices is a relatively recent phenomenon, and airports are struggling to keep up with demand.

As airports scramble to meet electrical demands, the numbers of passengers - and gadgets - are increasing at an exponential rate. In the "old" days, laptops were the only device you would see plugged into a wall outlet on the concourse. Nowadays, the number of devices requiring electricity have multiplied to include PDAs, cell phones, iPods, GameBoys, and (of course) more laptops than ever before. To make a bad situation even worse, airports have created more demand for electricity by creating WiFi hubs to occupy passengers as they wait for their flights.

Over time the number of outlets in airports will increase to approximately one power source every twelve feet. However, the installation of new outlets is cost prohibitive, especially in existing airports. A single retrofitted outlet can run as much as $2,000, so most airports are gradually adding more power sources during construction and remodeling phases. But since you need power at the airport right now, here are a few tips to keep you up and running until your airport gets its act together.

Fresh Batteries

It's common sense that newer batteries hold a charge longer than older ones. Yet everyday, people head off to the airport with aging laptops powered by batteries that die out after five minutes of use. Ultimately, you have two choices: Spring for a new battery or get used to the fact that you may not be able to fire up your laptop at the airport.

Spare Batteries

If you're going to buy a new battery for your laptop or cell phone anyway, why not buy two? Frequent travelers have learned that a single spare battery can also spare them the time and hassle of competing for a free outlet. Just don't forget to charge up both batteries before you leave the house.

Portable Energy Devices

The marketplace is well aware of the electrical conundrum at airports and has responded with another category of electrical device. But instead of sapping electricity, portable energy devices can be used as a power source for laptops or anything else that needs a quick boost. The best part is that most of these devices can be easily packed in a carry-on.

Power Sharing

All of your fellow passengers are in the same boat as you. Good old-fashioned sharing continues to be the best solution for meeting your energy needs. Be respectful of others and pack a surge-protected, multiple outlet power strip in your carry-on. When outlets are in high demand, politely ask if you can plug in your power strip and provide access for several users.

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