How to Get Free Wi-Fi at Airports That Charge for Internet Connections
If you're stuck at an airport that charges for Internet connections, here's a solution: Go to the gift shop and ask for a a free Wi-Fi pass.
That's what happened to me last week. I was in LaGuardia Airport and my flight — surprise, surprise — was delayed. I decided to use that gift of time to check my e-mail and do a little bit of work.
So I charged up the laptop and tried to go online. No luck. The airport offered a pay-as-you-go system called Boingo and I was not able to hitch a ride on any of the other unsecured Wi-Fi systems. (See also: 8 Frequently Under-Budgeted Air Travel Costs)
But while looking at the Boingo pay-now portal, I noticed that there was slot for a promotional code. HMMM?
Minutes later in the gift shop, I saw a stack of "15 minutes Free Wi-Fi" coupons from Boingo. Boingo provides Wi-Fi at over 500 airports, 17,000 hotels (Marriott, Hilton, etc.) and 9,000 McDonald's.
Hmm. The clerk gave me a Boingo card and I sat down to log on for free minutes.
The promotional code did not work, but I called the tech support number and the Boingo customer rep offered me a complimentary code that would get me online while I was waiting for my flight.
That did the trick. My flight was called and I had no need for the free pass. But I learned the following lessons:
- Inquire about free Internet passes at the airport gift shops.
- If there are no passes, go to the fee-based Wi-Fi portal (website) and look for a toll-free number. Ask the customer rep for a promotional code that will provide you with free minutes.
By the way, the customer service number for Boingo is 1-800-880-4117. I'm keeping that number with me when I travel.