For today’s road warrors, staying connected on the road is a do-or-die situation.
Instant access to email, real-time flight information, mobile travel documents, news, and social networking without a doubt improves productivity and efficiency - the success of the trip depends on the traveler having the most accurate, up-to-date information at his fingertips.
With some airlines and airports lagging behind in offering Wi-Fi or actual outlets to recharge devices, it can be hard to navigate the best options for staying connected in transit.
Fear not: Online MBA put together a handy tipsheet for business travelers with data compiled from sources like PC World, The New York Times and Executive Travel - here’s a rundown of the best places to recharge, get the most bang for your Wi-Fi buck, and choose the smartest gadgets to keep you in the game.
Best U.S. Airports. Of the top 10 airports with fastest Wi-Fi speed in the U.S., #1 and #2 go to airports in North Carolina. Charlotte provides its own Wi-Fi for free, and boasts the fastest upload speed (average 13.72 mbps) and 2nd fastest downloading (average 11.54 mbps). Raleigh-Durham has the 2nd fastest uploading and the fastest downloading, but AT&T (NYSE:T)charges $7.49 per day. While in the top 10 ranking, the slower airports in the list were: JFK, LaGuardia and Nashville, all serviced by Boingo at $7.95/day and with speeds approximating 2.8 mbps which is still higher than most airports in the country who offer services slower than 2.0 mbps.
Best U.S. Airlines. Airlines were judged on airport tech amenities (such as charging stations at the gate), mobile app quality, mobile check-in capabilities and percentage of fleet outfitted with Wi-Fi. Scoring highest: Delta (NYSE:DAL), Alaska and Virgin America. Customer-favorite JetBlue (NASDAQ:JBLU) was surprisingly in last place (their new mobile app released last week may change this), narrowly separated from Frontier and AirTran.
Best Tech Gadgets. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) cleaned up in this category with the iPhone (for its unmatched app store) and the iPad (for its versatility - provides excellent web browsing along with book reading, movie watching, presentation building, and of course, access to the app store). Other notables: Kensington’s portable laptop charger with an integrated USB outlet for charging mobile devices, and Seagate’s three terabyte external hard drive for all your data storage needs - and then some.
The future of connected business travel looks promising as 90% of airlines surveyed by SITA in 2011 planned to invested in passenger mobile services in the very near future. U.S. airports could easily step up their tech amenities: the average number of outlets at gates is only 5.5, deplorably low since each traveler has at least one device to charge.