What is it about power outlets in airports?

Okay, folks. What is this thing about power outlets at airport gates? Or rather, the lack thereof? I’ve previously blogged about this regarding Schipol airport, but this is the case at most airports I know. This time round, it is Copenhagen.

Occasionally, you’ll find an airport that has retrofitted some unused space to a „business area”, with small stand-up cubicles sporting one or two outlets each. At Frankfurt Airport, you can find „mobile phone charging stations” - but no outlets at the gates.

What are the operating companies afraid of? That power-hungry travelers with starving laptops might double their operating expenses?

Every time I look in vain for an outlet somewhere - anywhere - near a gate, I always wonder how they vacuum the place. Do the cleaning personnel sport rechargeable Dysons? Or have vacuum cleaners also been taken out of the budget; after all, you can usually do a similarly good job with a broom.

Seriously, in my frequent traveling, I’ve plugged into spare outlets behind soda machines as well as received friendly support from bar personnel, by plugging me in at a hidden outlet behind the bar.

There are airports that accommodate travelers with laptops by providing one or two (wow!) outlets per gate. Usually, far enough away from a seat so that the poor bloke has to single him or herself out by sitting on the floor.

My plea to all operators of airports: please give us juice!

Powerless in Schipol

Okay, I travel quite a bit. And like most people, I use a mobile phone. I tend to use it a lot, which leads to frequent charging. Sometimes, it is even necessary to give it a short boost of energy while waiting for a plane.

Let me state an assumption. It is my belief, that a good chunk of bottom-line profit of most airports in Europe comes from business travel. Would you agree? If I look around me while waiting for my delayed flight from Schipol to Frankfurt, I see a lot of laptops and Blackberrys in action.

So you would think that an airport would be interested in catering to their business customers, no?
No. Not at Schipol (and a lengthy list of other airports around the world). While I’ve seen special “laptop and mobile phone charging stations” at airports in the U.S., I don’t recall coming by one of those in Europe.

I spent a good fifteen minutes at Schipol today, frantically looking for an outlet so that I could keep my mobile phone alive. I did pass a guy that had struck gold in an outlet probably made for cleaning machines. Needless to say, he had to sit on the cold floor to charge and use his laptop.

The ultimate non-business-friendly airport is King Khaled Airport Riyadh. I don’t know how they vacuum or polish the floors there - they apparently have no outlets at all - anywhere! Maybe all the cleaning equipment in use there is battery powered, who knows.

Is my sucking of a couple of watthours of current really going to affect Schipol’s bottom line? I highly doubt it. Please folks, get some access to power outlets set up for us poor folks that depend on our electronic communications equipment to ensure that our employer makes enough profit to buy more airline tickts, a healthy portion of which goes towards the airports those planes fly out of and into.

The Wait Continues...

Complaining on a very high level: this is certainly a better alternative to thousands that are stuck in airports around the world:

Well, my hopes for a trip home today are doomed, this morning the German airspace was closed until at least 20:00h tonight, which means my flight due to arrive in Frankfurt at 18:40h is cancelled (once again).

I booked a flight to Linz on Wednesday morning, as the Austrians opened their airspace this morning - hopefully, it will remain open until then! Even if the German airspace opens up tomorrow, there will be chaos at the airport with everyone trying to get on the first plane(s) out. With my flight cancelled, it is open game with trying to get a seat.

This way, I have a very good chance of getting home late Wednesday evening - there is a decent train connection from Linz to Frankfurt airport (where my car is parked). Cross your fingers for me.

What is really annoying is that the airlines are not using simple and available methods of communicating with their customers. For every ticket I booked, I had to leave my email address - obviously, since they have to email me the receipt for the electronic ticket. You’d figure someone would implement a process that sent an email once the flight was officially cancelled, but no!

Even worse, the website of the various airlines and airports have information that is sometimes many hours old. For a while, I still had hopes that my flight to Frankfurt this afternoon on SunExpress might leave a couple of hours later to arrive not at 18:10h but at 20:10 or so (the airport was officially closed until 20:00h). The status page on the SunExpress website still has the flight as uncancelled, even though a check of the Frankfurt Airport arrivals info shows it as cancelled as of 11:00h.

The Frankfurt Airport website was down for hours on end today - both this morning and this afternoon:

Not using simple and cheap communications tools such as a website that takes just a couple of minutes to update is - in my opinion - unacceptable. I guess there is still a long way to really good customer service!

Disaster Strikes - the Cloud rolls in

All sitting in a row - these are planes from companies like Pegasus Airlines and SunExpress, sitting like waiting ducks at Antalya airport.

If you don’t know what cloud I’m talking about, read the news. A little hint: it has to do with Iceland. Let me ask you this: can’t those guys control their volcanoes, or what? Just put a lid on it, folks!

I had planned on flying back from Istanbul yesterday (Friday), but that wasn’t meant to be. As I watched all the airports in Germany close their gates (on the web), I recklessly booked a flight to Zürich - but that was closed in the night to Saturday.

This morning, I got up at 5:00AM, saw the situation go red and booked a flight from Istanbul to Antalya and then from there on to Frankfurt, since it was one of the few flights that hadn’t been cancelled.

Just before I left Istanbul, the Antalya-Frankfurt connection was annulled (what a horrible word) and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do... the joker Antalya, that looked so bright just that morning, might be a nightmare with fewer flights going out from there than from Istanbul.

But as it turns out, I was able to re-book the flight to an early-morning (6:00 AM!) one to Stuttgart, due to arrive tomorrow (Sunday) at 8:35AM.
This evening, German Flight Control had set the null-window to 8:00AM, so I stand a chance that I’ll get home tomorrow.

If that doesn’t work out, it looks like I’ll be stuck here until Tuesday, as all the remaining flights (that might not go after all) are filled up.
Really annoying was the hotel Turkish Airlines put me up for the night in: some shoddy city job in Antalya (Cilur?) - what a dump! Luckily, I had reserved a nicer hotel (all-inclusive for 68€/night) “just in case” before flying out of Istanbul - and that is where I went.

It is the Lara Beach Hotel in - you guessed it - Lara, just east of Antalya.

Cross your fingers for me!