Of Airports and AirPort

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I spent Sunday afternoon flying back from Lihue, Hawaii, to Los Angeles. And today -- right after I finish up this Weblog entry, as a matter of fact -- I'm heading back to LAX to a catch a plane up to Oakland for a business trip. So you'll understand if I have airports -- and AirPort -- on the brain.

I take my PowerBook G4 everywhere, even on vacations like last week's jaunt out to Kauai (although under an agreement with my wife, I can only take out the laptop to transfer photos from my digital camera to iPhoto and play the occasional God game). But trips like tonight's foray to Oakland are of the business variety, which means I'm bringing the PowerBook along for work. And since I like to get to the airport at least two hours before my flight -- you never know when the guy in front of you in the security line is going to be stunned that his prize collection of Japanese throwing stars isn't allowed as carry-on luggage -- that means I have plenty of time on my hands to get some work done on the laptop.

Which brings us to the issue of connecting to the Internet when you're at the airport. A growing number of airports offer Internet connections -- wireless and otherwise -- but keeping track of what's available where and how much it costs can be as maddening as finding your connecting flight in an unfamiliar terminal. About.com features a list of airports offering Internet access, but there are only seven airports mentioned, which feels somewhat incomplete.

So let's start our own list. What airports have you been to where you've been able to connect to the Internet? Was the service available throughout the terminal or just in a specific area? Does the airport offer wireless connectivity? And just how Mac-friendly was the service?

I'll get us started. Two airports with terrific wireless offerings are Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The services available at both airports are similar -- wireless access throughout the terminal courtesy of Wayport for a nominal fee (somewhere between $5 and $10, if memory serves). I prefer the terminal-wide access over airports that restrict online services to a specific section of the terminal. That way, I can log on right in front of my departure gate and log off when it's time to board the plane. Neither Sea-Tac nor DFW posed a problem for my PowerBook; all I needed was an AirPort card to connect.

There is one thing about working on my laptop in an airport that I find irksome, and maybe someone out there has a suggestion. The problem is power -- I can work on my laptop while waiting to board my flight, but at the expense of running down my PowerBook battery. And if I've got a cross-country flight ahead of me, the likelihood of dwindling battery life becomes even less appealing. Yes, I can try and plug in to an outlet somewhere in the airport terminal to preserve precious battery power, but bitter experience has taught me that available power outlets in airports are few and far between (and usually snapped up by like-minded travelers). So -- any suggestions on what I can do to extend my PowerBook's battery when I'm doing my terminal-bound Web surfing?

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