If you’re getting ready to get on a plane and hope to watch some movies once you get in the air, it is natural for you to wonder if your airplane will have power outlets for you to use. After all, how boring would a flight be if all you had to do was stare at the person in the seat in front of you? Fortunately, this is rarely a problem because most airlines work hard to accommodate your technology needs.
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Although most airlines have charging stations in their terminals, not all of them have USB ports or power outlets in the seats of the plane itself. Most major airlines have these, of course, and you do have alternatives if your particular airline has no way for you to plug in and recharge once you get in the air.
How to Charge Your Phone or Tablet While in the Air
Particularly on long haul flights it can become a necessity to be able to charge your mobile devices in flight. There are numerous ways to charge a cell phone or tablet while you’re in an airplane, including the following:
- Buy a portable charger: you can even charge these up in the terminal before you board the plane, and most of them offer a long usage time once they’re charged.
- Use the power outlet in the plane seat by bringing an AC power adapter, which plugs in just like any other electrical device.
You can also make sure your device is fully charged before getting on the plane, and if you’d like to reduce your power demands so that you don’t need recharging quite as often, you can try one of the following tips:
- Keep your device turned off as much as possible
- Turn off or change certain settings on your phone to save energy, such as the brightness level, location services, and automatic updates
- Buy an extended life battery
- Make sure Auto-Brightness is turned on
- Stop animations and motion
- Disable WiFi whenever you don’t need it
- Turn your personal hotspot off
There are many other ways to save the life of the battery on your cell phone, and they usually go a long way in reducing the amount of time you spend recharging your devices when you’re 30,000 feet in the air.
This way, it won’t matter if you find any airplane outlets in the plane you’re on.
Do All Airlines Have Power Outlets and USB Ports?
The answer to this question is simple: no, they do not. However, many of the larger airline companies do have some type of accommodations for people who wish to charge or use their various electronic devices once they get on the plane. These include:
- Air Canada: Most flights have 110V AC power outlets near each seat; usually have a USB port at each seat
- AirTran: No power outlets are provided
- Alaska: Most do not have any power outlets
- American Airlines: Power outlets found on most of their planes, although some are DC outlets only; most First Class and economy flights have power outlets; in the main cabin, the outlets are sporadically placed
- Delta Airline: Power outlets found only in first class on some domestic flights; USB ports found in most other flights
- Jet Blue: Some flights have power ports at every seat; they are internationally compatible and do not require a charger; the Mint Experience cabins have two power ports
- Southwest: No power outlets are provided
- United Airlines: 110V AC ports in premium seats in some planes; power outlets on some international flights; it is reported that power outlets will be included in most Economy seats very soon
- US Airways: 110V AC ports in certain First Class and Envoy seats; 15V DC ports in certain economy seats, although you’ll need an adapter; some planes have USB ports in each seat and others have them only in Envoy seats
- Virgin America: One standard and two USB ports located between each of the seats, meaning you may have to share
As you can see, each airline is different in both the number and location of airplane outlets and USB ports they offer.
If you’re planning to be on a plane anytime soon, therefore, you can always contact the airline company and find out for sure what they’re able to provide to you regarding these devices.
There are also different types of outlets and ports provided by these airline companies, and they include the following:
- AC power: usually 110V AC power; can be used for your phone, tablet, or computer.
- DC power: typically 15V DC power with up to 75 watts per outlet; it is similar to the cigarette lighter in your vehicle.
- EmPower DC power: available in more than 40 airlines; you’ll need an adapter to hook into it.
Again, checking with the airline company before you take off is a smart idea, because this is the best way to be prepared ahead of time and learn what you need to do before you board the plane if you want to use your electronic devices while in the air.
You should also keep in mind that most airlines offer only 75 watts of power for each seat, which means larger laptops may not get what they need to fully charge.
Other airline companies ask their passengers not to charge their devices, but to use the power outlets just for occasional use.
Either way, it is smart not to count on the airlines to provide you with fast, comprehensive charging capabilities while you’re in the air.
The good news is, even older airplanes are being retrofitted with power outlets and USB ports these days, which means it is very likely that the airline you use most will soon have these advantages, if it doesn’t already.
You can go online and check out these things so that you are better prepared before you board the plane.
Since the costs associated with updating planes with airplane outlets and USB ports is expensive, we should all be grateful that the airline companies are willing to do more to accommodate our obsession with our electronic devices, especially because they are not charging us more just for the convenience of it.
Airplane Power Outlet Basics
Understanding that the number and types of outlets on airplanes will vary by airline, class, route, and the aircraft itself is important.
If you’re flying First Class on a particular airline, you may have both a power source and a USB port at your disposal, while the passengers in the regular cabin may not have either.
Websites such as seatguru.com are a perfect place to start when you’re interested in learning which airline offers what.
As far as power outlets are concerned, there are many different types, including 110V, 115V, and 220V. This means that when you’re researching the outlets offered by a specific airline company, you have to make sure you find out if the power outlet they do supply is adequate for your needs.
In recent years, the FAA has relaxed some of the rules regarding the types of devices allowed on airlines, which means they are working harder to accommodate those devices.
If You Decide to Bring an Adapter
If you feel the need to bring an adapter on the plane with you, there are a few things to keep in mind. These include the following:
- For cigarette DC adapters, look for one with an “Auto/Air” capability, which can also be easily converted from a cigarette DC to an Empower DC capability
- For Empower DC power, you may have to buy an additional adapter that is made to be attached to a cigarette DC adapter
- If you’re flying internationally, it is always best to choose a universal adapter