Airplane plugs

airplane plugA couple of years ago, the Home Warrior and I took a fabulous vacation to Puerto Rico. On the way home we were re-routed, so that instead of flying through Dallas we flew through JFK. As we live in Texas, this made for a much longer trip. On the flight to JFK I started reading a very entertaining Steve Berry book, but after just about thirty minutes my Kindle died. Bummer. But the Home Warrior saved the day! Not only did he randomly bring my Kindle charger, he also brought our DC plug converter (similar to this one)so I was able to charge my Kindle on the plane and continue reading my book. Woohoo!

Since then, I’ve always double checked to be sure my electronics are charged before a trip. Yes, the DC plug converter was handy, but they’re not small. I would rather use the space for something else, so if my computer dies on a flight I just have to deal with it.

However, a couple of months ago on a flight from Toronto I happened to notice that the plane had real, actual plugs! I was able to use my computer for three hours, no problem. It was great! After that flight I noticed them on most of the planes that I checked. “All of these planes have had real plugs!” I thought. “Surely that means that American updated their entire fleet!” Aaaaaaaaaaand I started to count on them.

So then two weeks ago, I flew to Manila. The flight back was so long that my phone just couldn’t make it, and the battery died. And we arrived late, plus there were crazy long lines in customs. I literally had to cut in line at security and then run in order to make my flight. Of course, there was no time to stop and plug in my phone. No opportunity to call my husband and let him know I’d made it back to the country safely but would be later than expected getting home. “But don’t worry!” I told myself. “I can plug it in on the plane!”

Alas, my assumption that all the planes had been updated was wrong. My plane from DFW home had a DC plug. Not that it was a huge, huge deal—it just meant I had to call him from the car once I landed, an hour and a half later. I could see it being an issue for people who had a longer connecting flight, though. (Although, I have to admit—since I hadn’t talked to my husband in almost two days, it made me sad to have to wait that extra hour and a half.)

Even with my recent experience, I don’t plan to start traveling with a DC adapter. I will just go back to making sure that my devices are charged before my flight, and if I get lucky and there’s a regular plug on the plane it’s a bonus.

Readers, do you count on being able to plug your electronics in while flying? If so, do you travel with DC adapters?


  1. You don’t need to make sure your devices are charged, or bring a million adapters, or hope for a power port on the plane. Just get one of those external battery packs! They charge any USB device, some even have built-in plugs. They have smaller ones that are the size of a lipstick, or big ones that have enough capacity to charge a tablet. You’ll wonder how you lived without them.

  2. For me I always carry the DC usb charger as my old phone would not last a few hours so it was critical. It’s not that big for me so I generally carry ac and DC plug. You just never know when your plane won’t have any outlet at all and you’ll have to survive with just the remaining battery charge.

  3. I love this trend – plus add the fact that airports and carriers are adding free wi-fi, talk about never having to be disconnected. Something that’s very important for me as a business traveler.

  4. Like the first comment, I think it’s moved well beyond power specific to planes, trains and automobiles. I can’t imagine going anywhere, even to a meeting w/o some porta-power. Depending on the device I can get 3-7 full charges for phone, iPad and even Air, enough for a typical 3-day trip and never have to worry about DC or other charge stations.

  5. Can’t count on power outlets or USB ports on all planes. Just spend a few bucks and get a portable battery pack. They won’t recharge your laptop but will for phones and tablets. Absolutely useful. I just laugh at those commoners sitting near the wall outlet at airports while my phone charges from the portable battery.

  6. In addition to a small power pack you can go way lighter on plugs and adapters. What people don’t realize is that all USB devices are 5 volts, are current limiting, and (except for Apple) use micro USB sync cords. That means you only need to bring a plug adapter (preferably 2 A) a micro USB cord, and a 2A power port adapter. Done. You can charge your phone, kindle, etc off the same set of equipment. Get an Apple to micro USB adapter and you can charger that too.

  7. Try to get a good charger with like 5200mAH instead of the $10 one with 2600mAH, you’ll find the larger capacity charging worth the price difference in my experience.

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