Alec Saunders reports that Montreal airport has put covers over its electrical outlets, presumably to stop people from charging their laptops and phones while travelling. Which is, you know, really dumb: frequent travellers need juice between flights, and airports that sell WiFi without providing the electricty to use it are like coffee-shops without toilets. They're missing out on the revenue they'd get from people who'd buy the WiFi if only they had the power to use it.
I'm sitting in Montreal's Trudeau airport, and noticing what appears to me to be a new trend. Airports have been capping off the power outlets. Where have they all gone? It used to be that you could find a power outlet on a wall or a pillar at the gate, but not anymore. In recent weeks, I've travelled through Seattle, San Jose, Chicago O'Hare, Toronto, and Montreal. The plentiful power that laptop users used to depend on is virtually non-existant. Here in Montreal, I am sitting in a phone booth, because it has a power outlet for laptop users.
I got into a huge fight at London's Luton airport a couple months ago when I was ordered to unplug my laptop because it presented a "fire hazard." All the devices plugged into the outlets in the airport had to be "certified." I asked about the laptop adapters for sale in the Dixon's electronics shop beside me and was informed that they were certified, and I could plug back in if I bought a new adapter from them (imagine that — a £50 electricty tax in the form of a mandate to buy a new adapter!). I'd just spent £13 on WiFi, so I kept arguing, demanding that they give me a quote I could publish in a magazine column about their policy, and they relented — finally — when I pointed out that the people in the first-class lounge visible through the picture window had all plugged their laptops in.
Update: Glenn sez, "My friend Nancy Gohring just wrote from Paris (where she's about to fly back to
Dublin) that Parisian airports will add 2,000 free electrical outlets for people
to use; this was promoted in the airport magazine."
Update 2: Slavin reports, "Had the very same experience at Stansted (London) a few weeks ago. Same circumstances, had just paid for a British adapter, and for wifi." Crap. I used to fly out of Stansted 20 times a year. I guess not any more.