Friday, February 22, 2008

Travel Tip: Plugging In On The Plane

Last time I was on a plane, I noticed what appeared to be a power plug next to the seat, but didn't fit any adapters I had seen before. I finally got around looking this up for my next trip and learned:

American Airlines has retrofitted their airplanes for more leg room in coach, which makes it far easier to extend your laptop screen. And if you're on American, look for a "lightning bolt" symbol on the overhead bin row — these are the ones with power port-equipped seats. Most airline laptop outlets require an EmPower plug, which is not the same as a car lighter plug.; when buying an adapter, check if it has a convertible plug that works with both airline and car chargers

Sure enough, for $10.00 I can convert my car adapter into one that's Airplane friendly.

What you say, you don't have a car adapter to power your laptop? How on Earth do you program for hours while your wife drives? Don't tell me you actually talk to her on 5+ hour trips? You can pickup an adapter for around $30 that should do the trick for both the car and plane. Your wife (or husband) may not thank me for this.

There's also an interesting warning from the above article:

Some airline passengers have found that they can plug a laptop computer AC adapter into 110V/400Hz airframe sockets, usually located under covers near the floor next to an exit door. Don't do this. Aside from the issue of running your adapter on 400Hz, these outlets are intended for medical devices during flight. If there's something wrong with your adapter and it trips the circuit breaker, someone could literally die before the problem is corrected — the breaker is difficult to access because it's located below the main passenger deck. If you see someone using any outlets on a plane other than the approved laptop charging outlets, alert a flight attendant.

Good to know.


  1. Lauren received a kick-ass adapter at her last visit with Deloitte. I comes ready to plug into an airplane jack and an adapter for the car, plus it has not only a standard 120v plug but a usb port for usb charging. Best off, for her its free, it is $25 at Amazon

  2. Thanks for the tip Nick!

  3. Virgin America has regular 3 prong and USB outlets between each seat. Took me awhile to find them but very nice to have. The interface for the entertainment system was pretty nice too. I love that you can text chat between seats.