Finding Outlets in Airports Gets Easier

Every laptop-using traveler knows that walk. It’s the brisk trot of the security detail, scanning the surroundings not for threats, but for electrical outlets in an airport lounge.

In my experience, European airports are the worst. I defy you to try to find an available outlet in Heathrow. They’re under concealed floor plates, on the back side of columns and behind the stalls of credit card hucksters.

I rejoiced, then, to see these things in the Newark airport last week (click for the largesse action):

Hurray for Samsung

They’re ‘charging stations’, sponsored by Samsung (some background on Gizmodo). They have six or eight plugs, easily accessible at eye-level. As you can see, they’re branded with the Samsung name, and contain a little display case for showing off new Samsung stuff. They’re apparently in 15 airports across the US.

Hurray for Samsung! This is well-executed marketing. They’re delivering something of value to us just when we need it. The station doesn’t play audio or video ads, require registration or time out after 30 minutes of recharging.

The only addition I would have made was listing a specific URL on the station, or providing a little tear-off sheet with a product offer. That would provide another means of measuring the campaign’s success. I assumed that the airports are tracking power usage so they can bill Samsung appropriately, but I expect that’s assuming too much.

And bonus points for putting the stations in the actual boarding lounges. When they’re provided, study carrels and outlets are often in some dismal corner, far away from your boarding gate. It’s like you’re being punished for being a hard worker.

For example, in Chicago O’Hare, they have a bunch of study carrels with outlets in little clusters. I guess they’re owned by the airport, and advertisers can sponsor them on an ad hoc basis. Unfortunately, the carrels are usually in busy hallways, and the one I used wasn’t in view of my gate. Compared to Samsung, they get a C- on execution.


  1. I noticed the power centers when I was in San Francisco as well as Minneapolis. Think SeaTac might have them as well. I think they are a cool idea for today’s digital age. I remember seeing people huddled around walls to use the outlets for powering up their laptop/cellphones where these little power stations allow a bit more comfort before your flight.

  2. Definitely a great idea – congratulations to Samsung on this. Contrasted with my recent experience in the Vancouver airport, where televisions were cranked up nice and loud so that I could hear the same Rogers 5-second commercial played every two minutes or so. Which brand do you think I’d come away despising, and which I’d remember fondly?

  3. Man, I sure could have used one of those when we were stuck for seven hours in San Jose Cabos airport for seven hours! We had to sit on the very uncomfortable floor the whole time because the outlets were on a pillar that was far away from any of the seats. So impractical!

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