Some flights offer Wi-FI, and some flights don’t. Some airplanes include dedicated power outlets for every seat, while others only offer them in certain seats. But you can check before you get on the plane — or even before you book tickets.

Check ahead of time and you’ll know just how much Internet access you’ll have, and whether you can easily charge your portable electronics and laptop. This information can even help you decide which seat to pick.

When Booking Tickets

RELATED: Yes, You Can Use Electronics During Takeoff and Landing: What You Need to Know

When purchasing airline tickets, you’ll usually find this information listed on airfare comparison websites. For example, search TripAdvisor for tickets and you’ll see “Wi-Fi” or “Power” listed under specific tickets if the airplane offers these features. Other sites and even airline-specific booking sites often list these features in a similar way, if you’re looking closely.

Be sure to look deeper and check the connections here. You may only have Wi-FI or power outlets on specific flights if you’re taking a trip with more than one flight.

But it’s not always that simple — just because an airplane offers “power” doesn’t mean you’ll be able to plug your laptop in at your seat. Those outlets may only be at specific seats, or some seats may only have access to USB power outlets. Depending on the flight, you may have to share an outlet or two with other other people who may or may not want to use them.

Ticket comparison sites generally offer this information, and individual airline booking sites should, too. If the website your’e booking tickets on doesn’t offer it, switch to a different website. For example, HipMunk displays flights with Wi-Fi with a Wi-Fi icon. In the screenshot below, it seems US Airways does offer Wi-Fi on both flights on this route, whereas United doesn’t.

Check a Specific Flight

If you already have a flight planned, you can check information about those flights. You could attempt to look at an individual airline’s website or your booking confirmation email for this information, but you won’t necessarily find it the information you want.

Instead, try using SeatGuru, which is a sort of database of airlines, flights, and individual aircraft. As long as you know the airline and flight number you’ll be taking, you can plug it in here. Under Amenities at the right, you can see whether the flight has Wi-Fi and view information about it, including how much it will cost you to use.

RELATED: The Complete Guide to Buying an External Battery Pack

SeatGuru also provides you with a visual map, so you can see exactly where power outlets are located on a specific flight. You could also check SeatGuru when you’re reserving seats to ensure you pick seats with available power outlets.

Power outlet availability varies. If your flight offers power outlets, you may have an outlet dedicated to your seat alone, or you may have to share one or two outlets with the people sitting next to you. You may have a full-size AC power outlet that you can plug a laptop into, or you may only have USB power outlets you can connect phones and tablets to. Often, you may have both. The AC Power details under Amenities on SeatGuru offer more information.

If you just want power for your phone or tablet, consider bringing an external battery pack so you can recharge that phone, tablet, or any other device that charges via USB on the flight. If your flight does offer power, you could take the opportunity to recharge that external battery during your trip.

If you’re booking flights and really want to get a flight with Wi-Fi or power, be sure to use a site that displays this information. You could also look at the specific flight numbers and plug them into SeatGuru to see information about that specific flight.

Just because a flight should offer these features doesn’t mean it will. The Wi-Fi could be done and non-functional when you get on the plane, or you could potentially be put on a different plane without those power outlets. Bear that in mind if you’re considering paying a extra for these features on your next trip.

Image Credit: Bernal Saborio on Flickr

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
Read Full Bio »