How to Charge Your Phone or Laptop on a Plane

Keep your phone, tablet, or laptop charged as you travel

Young Asian man using laptop and reading newspaper on plane
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Some airlines offer a power outlet or USB port in their planes' seats, so you can keep on working or playing as you head to your destination and be fully charged by the time you land. Not all airlines or airplanes have this option, however, so here's what you need to know before you get to the airport. 

Travel Adapters and Power Ports on Airplanes

Previously, airlines had power ports that required special adapters and connectors for your laptop or another mobile device.

These days, the planes that offer in-seat power work with your standard AC power adapter (the kind you use to plug your laptop or another device into the wall) or, in some cases, DC power adapters like the cigarette power adapters found in almost every car. For these types of aircraft, you just bring along your standard power brick that came with your device or get an auto adapter from your laptop manufacturer.

Although you can bring your own chargers, when you regularly travel with many different devices, it might be worth investing in a universal power adapter that could charge your laptop and smartphone or tablet at the same time on the plane. You can find a laptop power adapter with USB port for about $50.

With some adapters, you have to select your laptop brand (Acer, Compaq, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony, or Toshiba), while other options come with power tips that work with multiple laptop brands. It might be best to invest in a universal charger if you have different laptop brands in your household, or you plan to switch brands in the future.

Find Out If Your Airplane Has In-Seat Charging

The easiest way to see if you'll be able to charge your laptop or phone on the plane for your next flight is to look up the seating chart posted on SeatGuru. Enter your airline and flight number for a map or browse aircraft by name. In the aircraft's In-flight amenities section, SeatGuru tells you if AC power is available and where. For example, the Airbus A330-200 on Delta has AC power in every seat.

Once on the plane, finding these power ports isn't always easy. You might have to crawl on the floor to find one under your seat, so it's best to make sure your gadgets are charged before a trip. As an alternative, consider bringing along a battery power pack for mobile charging anywhere you happen to be. If you have any layovers, take advantage of the charging stations that exist in most airport terminals.