You spend a lot of time at the airport as a frequent traveler. It’s important to be able to stay connected while you’re there without racking up a huge cell phone bill. Here is the compiled list and tips to protect you while using the public internet or airport Wi-Fi services.
What To Know When Using Free Airport Wi-Fi
Even though airports may not charge money for free Wi-Fi, you might be paying for it in other ways. Many airports will partner with local businesses to have them sponsor the Wi-Fi connection. These sponsors might be paying for the opportunity to have you watch an ad or add your email address to a mailing list.
When your data is flowing through someone else’s network, they have the potential to watch certain aspects of your activity, such as the websites you visit, the gates you’re at, for how long you stay on sites, or what other internet connected apps you were using. This is valuable data in the information economy.
Ways To Access Wi-Fi When It’s Not Free
If the airports you’re traveling to be listed above don’t worry, there are other ways to get Wi-Fi without being charged an arm and a leg for a few minutes of internet access.
- Reset Your Browser
You can try to delete your cookies and reset your browser to gain access for an additional amount of time to access the internet for the airports that limit your access to a specific time limit.
- Boingo Wireless
A subscription to Boingo Wireless will provide an unlimited amount of access to all of the Wi-Fi hotspot locations within the Boingo network. There are more than 150,000 Wi-Fi locations, including thousands of Time Warner Cable hotspots.
- Cable Or Cell Phone Providers
Some cable and cell phone providers also offer Wi-Fi connectivity to their customers. For example, T-Mobile will provide one hour of free Wi-Fi access while flying on a Gogo Internet-enabled domestic flight and XFinity offers hotspots throughout the US.
- Airport Lounges
Airport lounges offer complimentary food, beverages, and Wi-Fi to guests. Most domestic airport lounges offer an unlimited amount of time, but some international airport lounges do limit your access. You can access your favorite airline lounges when flying with a premium-class ticket, if you’re an elite member of their loyalty program, or if you have purchased a membership.
Many of the popular business credit cards provide a Priority Pass membership, which provides access to thousands of airport lounges around the world. If you don’t have a membership, consider applying for a new credit card before your next trip, purchasing a Priority Pass membership, or factoring in the cost of a day pass into your travel budget.
- Social Media Apps
If you check-in to the airport or airport lounge using social media, some apps allow users to comment on check-ins or to leave reviews. Read through the comments to see if anyone shared the Wi-Fi password so you can access it for free.
- Travel Router
A travel router is a great way to boost Wi-Fi through your cellular service. It keeps your information more secure and you can even share your service with others. They are compact, budget-friendly, and usually have strong battery power, making them easy to travel with. You can use your phone to amp up your tethering or you can purchase a travel router with a built-in cellular modem.
How To Protect Yourself On Public Wi-Fi
When connecting to public Wi-Fi, you need to protect yourself from people snooping on your internet activity. This includes your passwords! As a general rule, you want to avoid logging into accounts that hold sensitive personal information, like bank accounts, investments, credit cards, etc.
Purchase Virtual Private Network (VPN) software that scrambles your data so it is hidden from hackers and others. Because some websites do not allow foreign access to their sites, you can also use VPN to pretend like you are in the US while you may be traveling internationally. VPNs are a valuable tool while you are traveling.