Simple Rules for Airport Electricity

One of the small but notable annoyances of air travel is the scarcity of electricity en route to your destination. Air travel boomed long before the advent of portable electronics like laptops and iPhones, and as such, airports and airplanes are ill-equipped to provide the juice travelers so desperately need. While some flights offer power, it’s far from common, so the time spent waiting for a flight at the airport is crucial charging time.

Airports have always needed to be vacuumed, so even the oldest of them has a few power outlets scattered about. Many airports have also added additional outlets over the years. There’s never enough to conveniently go around, however, so their use needs to be maximized. My readers, good-looking and smelling faintly of a summer breeze as you are, no doubt know how to properly handle this scarcity. The rest of the world is less perceptive, however, so you may find it useful to point others to these simple rules for airport electricity.

Seat Selection Matters

When it comes to the airport seating, not all seats are created equal. There are plenty of seats around, so unless you’re planning to use a power outlet, don’t sit down at a chair in front of a power outlet.

One Seat Per Person

At airports like SFO, there are often a pair of seats in front of a pair of power outlets, perfect for two people to charge up. When seated at a pair of seats like this, the other seat is not for your bag, your feet, or even your child. It is for another person who is in need of electricity, so that he or she may also use an outlet.

One Outlet Per Person

Prioritize, you miserable bastard. Do you really need to use your laptop and a portable TV at the same time? And for the love of god, your iPhone charges over USB with your laptop. Yes, that laptop which you’ve already got plugged in to the power.

Acceptable Usage

So, you’re seated next to a power outlet. One and only one power adapter is plugged in to that outlet, charging your laptop. Your bag is at your feet next to your seat. Perfect.

And then you go and spoil it all, by doing something stupid like video chatting. Video chatting, particularly video chatting without a headset microphone, is completely unacceptable behavior for an airport. If the safety of the planet is at stake, and you apologize profusely, then perhaps an exception could be made.

If you’re calling your adult child to chat about your vacation, however, security should escort you out of the airport immediately. I’m sure Fort Lauderdale was lovely, but the rest of the airport doesn’t need to hear about it. We certainly don’t need to be treated to a five minute story about that bout of food poisoning you had, complete with a physical demonstration of your retching.

Oh yes, I’m writing about you, reprobate-sitting-next-to-me-at-this-very-moment. You sadden me, you sicken me, and I can only hope someone will point you to this post.


Choose your seat wisely. Use just one seat and one outlet. Don’t use the power for activities which are sure to annoy a large percentage of those seated around you. Follow those simple rules, and you’ll avoid being a thoughtless jackass, at least when it comes to electricity at the airport.