Travel Tips Posts

Should Wi-Fi Be Free in Airports?

Only ten years ago the first big American airport began offering free Wi-Fi. That airport was none other than Las Vegas; where free things are often used as a tactic to send you through a spending spiral in the city of sin.

Today you will find free Wi-Fi in nine out of ten of the largest U.S. airports. This has been great for consumers who just want to casually use the Internet; on the other hand, Wi-Fi is critical to business travelers. Therefore, free Wi-Fi in airports can be viewed as an amenity or a necessity, but how long will free Wi-Fi stay free?

In this article we will look at the different types of Wi-Fi consumers, the business of Wi-Fi, and how we can keep Wi-Fi free in airports.

 

Types of Wi-Fi Consumers

Vacation & Casual Travelers

This type of traveler wants Wi-Fi to be free. Everything else is costing them an arm and a leg these days. Airlines charge a premium for luggage. Airport food is astronomically priced and less than gastronomically pleasing. Free Internet, on the other hand, gives them something to do with their time that is often wasted while waiting on a flight. To the average customer, free Wi-Fi seems a lot like the free television news in the waiting area.

Business Travelers

For business travelers, Wi-Fi is part of the cost of doing business. They’d rather not pay for it, but when push comes to shove, business types will do what is necessary to stay in the game. It’s their livelihood. This could have an effect on the market if the tide turns against free Wi-Fi. Business travelers will pay, if unwillingly, while vacation travelers may forgo paying more charges.

 

The Business of Wi-Fi

Oh, so you thought Wi-Fi magically comes from the skies and into your device

Wi-Fi isn’t free, at least not to the airport. It takes a lot of money to offer free Internet to millions of square feet and many thousands of people. In addition to technical staff to keep it running, you need servers and Internet service. Airports can’t afford to go in the hole while offering a free service that could turn a profit.

To consumers, free Wi-Fi is the expected norm because we are constantly wired into our electronic devices especially in situations where we must wait.

How does free…stay free? Advertising, of course!

Ever had to watch a video or see some ridiculous ad that no one really cares about before given access to a public Wi-Fi? Well, that’s usually how free stays free.

Another popular approach for airlines to skip the major expense of installing and providing free Wi-Fi is working with a third-party provider. Boingo best exemplifies this. It can provide Internet, equipment, and installation to the airport. With daily access revenues, it can share the wealth with airports, although it may be as little as the $300,000 per year it paid to Houston.

Forbes reported that Boing has 271 airports on its lists, which include other large commercial spaces such as malls. In 2012, it bought out its biggest competitor, Advanced Wireless Group. Boingo has contracts with LAX, Miami, and Minneapolis-St. Paul among others. AT&T recently took Dallas/Fort Worth Airport away from Boingo.

Is anyone else dreading this super slow FREE Wi-Fi?

Whether the service is free or fee-based, a major issue is quality. When Forbes ranked airport Wi-Fi, it was clear that all Wi-Fi are not equal. There was no marked difference between smaller and larger airports either. Large airports such as O’Hare, Dallas, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Houston ranked in the mid to high 70s. See the below image for speeds of busy airports:

 

These speeds aren’t too bad! Now factor in thousands of people who use it!

 

For those that keep the service free, it will be harder for consumers to complain. On the other hand, if free service means lousy service, this may give the airport a reason to start charging fees for better service.

 

Hotspots

Yet another issue is the delivery method. Perhaps onsite providers will become unnecessary. Boingo has begun hosting a Hotspot at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. This allows smartphone users to get no-cost Wi-Fi that is secure and fast. This could lead to even more complicated deals as smartphone providers and other Wi-Fi players get into the act.

A Practical Solution

The best approach seems to be striking a happy medium between free and paid service. In this scenario, most services are free to travelers, but the airport charges for video streaming and other intensive uses. For instance, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport switched from charging everyone a fee to a free plan with a premium fee for connections lasting longer than 45 minutes. This seems like a way to be fair to the consumer without expecting the airport to foot the entire bill.

Airports could (and probably are already doing it) provide different types of Wi-Fi services to its patrons through a tiered system. If you haven’t heard of freemium (many app users know this term all too well) it is a business model for providing consumers with a free service but limiting the premium goods – unless you pay of course.

So to satisfy both parties there would be a free Wi-Fi tier (probably slower than your smartphone’s Internet), a premium tier (charging a small fee for higher speeds), and a first class tier (access to the highest speeds the airport can offer).

What do you think?

What do you think the future holds for free airport Wi-Fi? Should Wi-Fi remain a free amenity to airport patrons even at an expense to the airport? How about keeping Wi-Fi free (at slower speeds) but charging for higher speeds for those who really need it?

Tell us your thoughts, ideas, and experiences below in the comments.

Airport Parking Blackout Rates

 

According to our inventory last year, airport parking for these airports either nearly or completely sold out TWO WEEKS before Thanksgiving.

So you should definitely plan to book your airport parking reservation at least two weeks before important holidays or risk overpaying or not getting a parking lot at all!

Take advantage and save $5 on airport parking using coupon code: RELAX
This coupon ends November 11th, 12am PST. Book now!

It’s Plane and Simple: How to Avoid Catching Colds During Flights

www.medclient.com

There’s no escape from germs. They’re everywhere, but when you’re on a plane, there’s truly no escape from them because you have no chance to get fresh air. It is very important to take extra precautions to protect yourself from the germs and viruses you can catch when traveling via airplanes.

Apology

On behalf of AirportParkingReservations.com and ParkSleepFly.com, we cannot emphasize how apologetic we are about the marketing email that went out on September 22, 2014. It was an extremely poor choice and a mistake that leaves us all in remorse.

There is no good explanation to how and why we made the decision to create such a tasteless marketing email. It was clearly a poor choice on our end and we never had the intention to hurt or disrespect anyone. From the bottom of our hearts, we sincerely apologize for all the anger and emotional distress we have caused to the family of the deceased, the public and our customers.

Tips to keeping your home safe while traveling

How scared should you be when you leave your house before your trip? Every time I leave on a trip, I triple check every window and door to make sure I locked all of them. Luckily the worst thing I have come home to after a trip was my house being toilet papered and egged by an angry ex boyfriend when I was in middle school. I was just happy I wasn’t robbed until I realized he had put honey on my door knob.

The last thing you want when you come home from your vacation is to see that your house has been broken into or robbed. A house left empty while traveling is a target for criminals. I’m not trying to scare you, but I’m trying to give you the facts of life. Obviously, your location can also be a factor to how vulnerable you are to having your house getting robbed. I was lucky and was raised in Dana Point, CA, which has a very low crime rate, but you should still always take the necessary precautions no matter where you live. Your house can be kept safe if you follow some tips on how to make it seem like you aren’t out of town. Here are some ways to keep your house safe while on vacation.