When you’re travelling on business, internet access is often the only thing that makes the difference between useful, productive time on your way to your destination and tedious wasted hours on a layover. Additionally, if you’re abroad, using the internet on your phone can mean ridiculously hefty roaming charges. This means it is generally best to keep that feature switched off and use Wi-Fi instead.
While just about every airport has Wi-Fi these days, and not just in business lounges, there are various different ways they make this viable or even profitable to provide. Wi-Fi covering large areas is expensive, so airports need to support it either with advertising or payment models. Here is what you need to know about the current trends and pricings in airport Wi-Fi:
Free Wi-Fi More Common Than Ever
The models for internet availability in airports have changed over time. This is normal – in hotels, internet access used to be an expensive add-on, yet as it was introduced as a complimentary service in more and more mid-price hotels, lower tier places had to make it available too to compete. In airports, it used to be a luxury afforded to people in business and first class lounges, and if you were a regular business traveller ten years ago, you probably remember seeing people huddled outside lounges on their laptops trying to get connected.
Then, internet was available en masse at airports, but a paid service in all but a few particularly smaller ones. Now, however, free Wi-Fi is almost expected by travellers who are used to free internet access in every restaurant, coffee shop, mall and business they visit, and it isn’t just business users who can’t do without it.
Additionally, domestic travellers are able to use their cell phones to access most of the things they want to see on the web like their email and social media accounts without having to use data roaming, so there is less of a market for paid connections. As a result, more and more airports have free Wi-Fi these days.
Advertising and Paid Upgrades
Of course, airports still need to make the provision of Wi-Fi cost effective, so while the Wi-Fi services are now more often than not free, you will usually have to sit through a thirty-second commercial video every 30-40 minutes to continue using the service.
Another model that is becoming more and more popular is the use of a tiered structure. Users who want to use the Wi-Fi for free still “pay” for it by watching the ads; however those who want to access the web without them and also get a faster service can pay an hourly rate – usually around $8. This works well because free Wi-Fi can often be slow due to the number of people accessing resources, and if you only have a short time before your flight leaves and need to send or download a big document, this can be hugely frustrating.
If you’re not sure what the options are at the airports you’ll be stopping at on your next business trip, check out the airport website or talk to your corporate travel company.
Jack Foster is a businessman who travels frequently for the purpose of work. He has a fair idea of many aspects related to business travel and often writes blog articles relating to them.
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