How to Charge Your Phone or Laptop on a Plane

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

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When you want to take your work with you on a plane or download Netflix movies to your iPad to watch during the trip, you'll need a place to charge your devices. Airports provide charging stations in terminals, where you can charge up before or between flights. Some airlines offer power outlets or USB port in the seats, so you can work or play as you head to your destination and be fully charged when you land. However, not all planes have this option, and you may need an alternative charging technique.

Use a Portable Charger

A portable charger is a charger that you take with you. Charge it at the airport before the flight or at home before you leave. Most portable chargers provide enough power to run devices a few times.

Belkin Portable Power Bank
 Belkin

For a tablet, phone, e-book reader, or another device that charges over USB, a USB battery is all you need. Some have multiple USB ports to charge more than one device at the same time.

To charge a laptop on the plane, bring a portable laptop battery charger. Not only do laptops require more power than a battery charger meant for phones, but you need a way to plug the laptop into the charger. A portable laptop charger has the two-pronged or three-pronged connection needed to mimic a wall outlet.

It's best to charge a laptop battery charger overnight because it holds a huge amount of power. While waiting in the airport for your flight, plug in the battery charger to top off the charge.

Plug-In on the Plane

Some planes offer in-seat power that works with a standard AC power adapter, such as how a laptop plugs into the wall at home. For these types of aircraft, bring along the standard power brick you use with a wall outlet. You can get one on Amazon if yours is missing or broken.

Alaska Airlines In-Seat Power
Alaska Airlines

In some cases, DC power adapters are used in planes, like the circular cigarette lighter power adapters found in vehicles. If that's what's available, you'll need a DC to AC power converter.

If you frequently travel with a laptop and USB devices, you might prefer a DC to AC converter like the one from Foval that includes a three-pronged port for a laptop and two USB ports for smaller devices.

Not sure if the plane has in-seat charging? Search for your flight at SeatGuru or look up the airline. For example, from the Alaska Airlines page, click Compare seat pitch, then locate the Power Type section to see if AC Power is listed.

Tips to Reduce Your Power Demands

If you don't want to bring batteries with you or pay for something you'll only use on one flight, there are some things you can do to make sure your devices remain powered for longer.

Battery Saver, Automatic turn on toggle, Turn on now button on Android

One way to avoid charging your phone on a plane is to make sure it's fully charged before you leave. Charge up in the airport before you take off or keep the phone turned off until you get on the plane to avoid using it until you need to. The same goes for other devices that need power on the plane.

Another way to save phone battery, aside from keeping it turned off, is turn off location services, dim the brightness, and turn off automatic updates. See these tips to extend iPhone battery life (or iPad or Android battery life) for dozens of other tips.

If the above methods don't do enough to keep your iPhone or Android powered, the phone may contain files that can be deleted to free up space and make the device run smoother and use less battery. See these iOS maintenance tips and these Android cleaning tips.