Travel is both an important and frustrating part of being a photographer. Many photographers judge their success by how many miles they've flown or days spent on the road. Others dream about getting the chance to fly around the world taking photos. No matter how much you travel, for a lot of us, being in airports and flying in general is a necessary evil. Thankfully, creative people keep coming up with great tools to try to make our time spent in airports less painful.
On a recent assignment, my plane was taken out of service right after my flight was scheduled to leave. As a result, I missed my connection and arrived long after the last flights of the night went out. So, of course I spent the night in the terminal with my $12 food voucher and a new flight home first thing in the morning. That day, I spent 24 hours either in the air or in an airport.
The real disappointment was the fact that nothing was open in the middle of the night. I couldn't use my food voucher, and I couldn't get into the AA Lounge until right before my flight left. I did discover however that the lounge Wi-Fi was still active, and I could get a signal just outside the doors. So, I searched Google looking for some info on what the lounge password might be. That's when I found The Airport Password Map.
Created by Travel Blogger Anil Polat, this map gathers user-submitted details on Wi-Fi hotspots in airports all around the world. Just click on an airport ccon and find a lounge, restaurant, airline, or other source providing Wi-Fi to its patrons. Now, a lot of airports have come a long way the last few years updating their terminals with more power outlets, charging stations, and Wi-Fi services. Still, some, especially smaller ones, use paid services or time-limiters, making getting stuck in an airport for more than an hour more annoying and less productive.
Now, the biggest downfall to a tool like this is that it's reliant on its users to continue submitting data because passwords and Wi-Fi hotspots are always changing. Polat has however turned his map and idea into a mobile app available on Apple and Android, which includes a rating system with feedback so old passwords and hotspots can be updated faster. I haven't used the app yet, but the original map I have had success with.
Like a lot of things reliant on their user base, you will either find these tools helpful or full of old info. However if you travel a lot and find yourself searching for that elusive free hotspot, give the map a check. The more people who contribute and rate old info down, the better services like these will be.
Got a tip for killing time or making time in airports easier? Let me know in the comments.