So, being a wimp about the whole flying thing, I feel more motivated to travel when I’m in control of the small stuff. Like a 5-minute phone charge while I…
1. Hide in the bathroom.
It’s a great option for moms who pump, who can also plug in rather than risk running out of battery juice.
They’re handy, they’re comforting, they’re available in this hidden sanctuary but not often in economy class. Bathroom plugs are a little slice of hope.
But they are not universal. And seat guru does not mention them as amenities, leaving you to call your airline or pretend you don’t care. How do you find out if the bathroom is a last resort?
Older planes are better candidates for the bathroom plug, which may or may not have one of those little stickers indicating it’s for shaving. This isn’t set in stone. In fact, the same plane model may have a bathroom outlet on one carrier, but not another. It can also vary by the year the plane was manufactured.
Don’t underestimate bathroom plugs. Quick charges may be available and if you linger in the bathroom, they can last half an hour or so. Or heck, bring a 10m cord and see if they say anything.
Some known planes with 110v outlets in the rest rooms:
AIRLINE OR PLANE MODEL
|Grupo Taca||A320 (in all seats)|
|United||Premium Service (P.S.) flights only|
|American Airlines||some A-300s|
|Jetblue||Airbus321 (in seating area)|
2. Sit in your seat like the awesome modern human you already are
Planes, like the rest of the world, are getting used to having power everywhere, and flight crews are realizing that people are crankier without constant internet. When JetBlue announced its planes would all be equipped with WIFI, one of the first things critics glommed onto was the accompanying lack of plugs for internet users.
Seat Guru does list outlet locations for your particular flight (if you’re a more secure person than I am, and would book a flight first, rather than browse planes ahead of time). Remember, even if economy does sport outlets or USB plug-ins, they aren’t always located in every seat.
Here’s the low-down:
Delta: USBs only in economy on 737-700 and 737-800, 757-200, 767-300 and 400ER (who the heck thought it was a good idea to name an airline after the emergency room?), and 777. PLus anything with “Delta on demand.” Beware: my phone gets finicky in these, and sometimes works, and sometimes doesn’t. Alternate cords help.
Delta International: the first ten rows of economy on the A330, 767-400ER, 777, and some 757 and 767-300ER planes (surprise!)
United: It’s coming. Right now, only select planes promise elusive 100v outlets. They claim 2014 for many flights, which to my mind, should be RIGHT NOW. But you can check up on your exact plane.
American: 737-800 (shared in each row with a USB too), 777-300 (all your own). American has many other planes with shared power, but it may be DC power and need an adapter like in your car.
Jetblue: Power in each seat on the Airbus 321, including USBs, no adapter required.
Alaska: They’re too hearty to need things like power on flights.
Frontier: Also, you know, hearty.
Virgin America: Power for all on both the A319 and A320
Hawaiian: USBs are part of the back of seat screens in economy on the Airbus A330-200.
Southwest: That strange combination of wifi and no power on the Boeing 737-300, 737-500, 737-700, and 737-800.
Lufthansa: Wifi without power on A340-600s. Ah, what will they think of next?
3. Bring your own power (i.e. buy products to solve your problems)
I’m a huge fan of DIY solutions for off-the-grid levels of control. In other words, it’s scary to trust the airline company will respect my insane need for power every second of the way, and oblige accordingly. There are a few solutions for people like us.
1. An extra cell phone battery. Or two. Or three. These things seem to cost between $5 and $20.
2. If you’re like the rest of the world and have an iPhone, it’ll cost you more. because your battery can’t be swapped out. Argh. External battery packs charge iPads, phones, and usb devices. There are halfsie-juice versions and double-juice versions to take you through a couple of rechargings somewhere over Greenland when you can’t sleep. Big power packs are available for charging things like laptops. This Mophie takes about an hour and a half to charge and gives you two charges (its speed goes down if you don’t recharge the charging station each time). For a bigger tablet, expect 5-6 hours for a full charge. Basically, this is a “power station.” It’s the biggest, the bulkiest, and the long-lasting option. It’s a brick. That’s the downside. Personally, I don’t find it all that brick-like. Honestly, we used to travel with way worse. It’s also more expensive than its competitors because it’s speedier and way more powerful. Twin USB ports keep everyone sharing nicely.
For the less control-freak-minded, Mophie makes an iPhone case that doubles the battery life of the phone without interrupting its signal or functioning (the one below is ONLY for iPhone 5 and 5S). A few companies do. The idea of a case that also comes with a battery charger without adding much bulk to your phone should appeal under the best of times, but really make you happy when traveling. This one, from Maxboost, gets the best reviews online by adding 120% to your battery life, being able to be used while charging (it charges your phone first when you plug in the whole system), and connecting to iTunes to sync without removing the case:
Finally, solar chargers exist that can (theoretically) recharge your devices infinitely, provided you stay above the clouds during daylight hours. Try top-ranked versions like this one, since these little techno cuties do have a reputation of being less than hearty, and I’ve had the pieces jam myself. Solar means a less-powerful charge, so devices will not charge as fast as you’re draining them. But the solar idea is great for those of us who will be deboarding and hitting the mountains, cycling trails, or anywhere else in the great outdoors, rather than a hotel where we can immediately re-up a plug-in charging station. Bonus: it’s kind of mind-blowing that your phone will keep up with you, even though you may not have townie luxuries like running water.
3. Bitty boost ~ If it’s not the middle of the night over Greenland, defer to this little puppy stuck to the window. It’s good for one charge, and it better be sunny out. But cuteness, no? It’s like the baby version of the solar charging stations.
4. Have you considered an emergency hand crank? Because I would use this in a heartbeat if I wasn’t so self-conscious that fellow travelers would see me as insane.
Look, for me, flying is an emergency. It’s something I do so that I can not miss my beautiful life. But darn it, comfort mechanisms are a top priority. And what else do you have to do but sit around and crank the handle? It’s entertainment AND technology.
4. Commandeer the kitchen
I’ve never heard of anyone doing this, but galleys in the rear of the plane have plugs. All of them. Feel that 100v power just staring you down. Perhaps if you look as panicked as you feel, someone will help you use one?
5. Use the airport early and often. And in between.
Hopefully some nice person will bring a surge strip so that everyone can play nicely. Or maybe that samaritan is you. In any event, make sure you’re fully charged before boarding and if you can schedule an extra half hour in between connecting flights, it might be worth it to juice up again.