Lost in Space:
Travelers share tricks on how to find electric outlets in airports

Waiting for a flight at the airport can be a bore, but if you can whip out your laptop, at least you can get some work done. But those with a long flight — or a long wait — ahead may hesitate to run down laptop batteries all at once.

The best solution, of course, is to find an electric outlet in the airport where you can plug in and work — or play solitaire — without running down your battery. Unfortunately such outlets can be hard to find.

To help, we asked some frequent travelers to share some of the insight they’ve developed over the years. Here’s what they recommend:

Terry Shannon:

• First try the obvious: Look on the support columns throughout the passenger waiting areas.

• Look near the gate agent’s desk.

• Keep an eye on the custodial staff: "They have to plug those vacuum cleaners in SOMEWHERE."

• Go to the airport bar: "Chat up the bartender and ask to use one of the outlets that is INVARIABLY behind the bar."

• Don’t be proud: "I’ve almost always found an outlet...but I don’t mind sitting on the floor up against a column. Probably looks strange, but you see plenty of strange stuff in an airport."

• Terry also offers this bit of advice that runs quite counter to advisories posted in most aircraft: "Once on board, if the juice on my THREE batteries runs out, I’ll just set the computer up in a bathroom and let it recharge in there. As long as the computer’s in a plastic bag, it should be safe from water spillage. And there’s little chance that the thing will ‘walk away’ at 35,000 feet."

Chris Smith:

• Look under banks of payphone where electric outlets are often out-of-sight.

• Look around the backs of pillars

• Look in the middle of nowhere, in large expanses such as departure areas and along corridors. Outlets probably located there for convenience of the cleaning staff.

• Make sure you carry a long electric cord to make inaccessible outlets more accessible.

• Make sure you always have a coin handy to remove the little, round brass covers that screw over outlets in the floor, although this last technique "may get you stern looks from airport staff." (May'02)

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