Powering up when you are 30,000 feet up


In today’s world, we live, work, and travel with our laptops, our mobile phones, and our iPods. These all run on batteries, but for a limited amount of time, of course. So what do you do if you are on a long flight and your equipment starts to lose its juice?

Many airlines have AC power ports where you can plug in your device, but even if the airplane you’re flying has power ports, they may not be located at every seat. And even if your seat does have an AC power port, you may need an adaptor.

Most airplane power systems are limited to approximately 75 watts of power draw per seat. This means that a new 17″ laptop, with a power-hungry processor, might not get enough juice to operate. Sometimes the laptop will know not to charge the battery and will just operate via the power, but other times the laptop won’t work at all, or will work for a short period of time before tripping the power circuit. You can try taking your battery out all together, or buy a smaller laptop.

Often, about one hour to 30 minutes before the end of a flight, the system will be shut-off, so your device will abruptly lose power. This will be a good time to remember to periodically save your work.

Due to the limited amount of power draw per seat, it is possible that your laptop won’t get enough power to both operate and charge. Some airlines, like Continental Airlines, specifically state that battery charging is not allowed and asks you to remove your rechargeable battery from your device.

Before you fly on a long route, if you plan on using your laptop while you are 5 or 6 miles up, it would be wise to check on your power options. A good source of the amenities available on airline seats can be found at www.seatguru.com .