During that 40-minute wait at the airport terminal, work crises always seem to strike. That spreadsheet needs immediate editing, a video-conference call can’t wait for a three-hour flight and, sometimes, a smart phone isn’t smart enough.But crafty road warriors know how to get their Internet running in a pinch, and these time-tested tips will have you surfing through your gate — oftentimes on the cheap.
Signal: Many modern cell phones can double as modems. Start by asking your carrier whether your phone officially supports tethering, in which a phone connects to a laptop (via cable or Bluetooth) to deliver Internet to your on-the-go office. Providers may charge extra for tethering, but for some phones, it’s worth it. Case in point: the new HTC EVO 4G (from $200), which can double as a Wi-Fi router for up to eight users on Sprint’s speedy 4G network. On other handsets, tethering may already be enabled, may be available for an extra monthly fee or certain apps (like PdaNet for the Android) will sneakily tether without voiding your warranty or racking up extra charges.
The Right Airport: Sea-Tac International is the latest big U.S. airport to announce free Wi-Fi service in every terminal. Granted, many larger city airports have yet to flip the “free” switch for all passengers, but you can luck out at quite a few smaller-haul airports, such as Little Rock National Airport (Ark.), and Grand Rapids’ Gerald R. Ford International Airport (Mich.). Also, some airports are strangely selective with their access; New York’s John F. Kennedy, in particular, has only one terminal with free Wi-Fi — so sniff around.
In the meantime, here’s a sampling of airports that currently have free access:
Albany International, N.Y.
Ted Stevens Anchorage International, Alaska
Boston Logan International
Charleston International, N.C.
Port Columbus International, Ohio
Duluth International, Iowa
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International, Fla.
Jacksonville International, Fla.
Jacksonville Albert J. Ellis, N.C.
Kansas City International, Mo.
Las Vegas McCarran International
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International
Oakland International, Calif.
Orlando International, Fla.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International
Sacramento International, Calif.
San Diego International
Norman Y. Mineta San José International, Calif.
Tampa International, Fla.
Tucson International. Ariz.
For a more comprehensive list, visit www.travelpost.com/airport-wireless-internet.aspx.
The Chain Gang: Starbucks, McDonald’s and Barnes & Noble are the latest nationwide retail outlets to offer free Wi-Fi at all locations, including airport hubs.
Fly American (of course): GoGo Inflight Internet service is available on select American Airlines flights for a nominal fee. Depending on the week, you can luck out with a discounted — or even free — trial by using a coupon code, watching an ad or taking part in a promotional offer. For example, our friends at SkyMall will refund your GoGo fee with a qualifying purchase.