Airports add outlets to serve power-parched passengers

Harriet Baskas , Special for USA TODAY | Original post on November 20, 2013 

Airline passengers with electronic devices parched for pre-flight power often get creative about charging up their gadgets. “We’ve noticed people sitting on the floor next to an outlet, moving airport seating to be closer to an outlet, or even unplugging things like an ATM to get electricity,” said Chantel Minish, spokeswoman for Alabama’s Huntsville International Airport (HSV). At Tulsa International Airport (TUL), passengers have also been found powering up “next to a vending machine, in the bathroom or up against a wall in a hallway,” said Alexis Higgins of the Tulsa Airport Authority. “Not only can these actions create trip hazards by stretching power cords across walkways, it just isn’t the type of environment we want to set for our customers,” said HSV’s Minish.

To address these and other service issues for travelers, airports across the country have been rapidly expanding the number – and type – of accessible power sources. Good thing, because now that the Federal Aviation Administration has given airlines the go-ahead to permit the use of personal electronic devices in more phases of flight, passengers are more power hungry than ever. Here’s a round-up of what some airports – and airlines – are doing to feed the growing need for power. When the $907 million expanded Terminal 2 opened at San Diego International Airport this past August, the USB-enhanced power ports (more than 1,600 in total) at every seat were among the new amenities touted. “It’s been tremendously popular,” said airport spokeswoman Katie Jones. On the recently renovated Concourse B at Tulsa International Airport, there are now an average of 74 power outlets per gate. “That’s one of the highest averages in the country,” said Higgins, who notes that renovations currently underway on the airport’s other concourse include plans for a similar number of outlets.


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