Free Airport Wi-Fi? Not in Hawaii, Bro'


Recently, I found myself stuck for several hours in an airport that had no Wi-Fi–not even any paid option for Wi-Fi. These types of airports are getting more scarce, and you can establish that with one of my favorite travel convenience sites: I’ve written about useful sites to know about if you’re a heavy traveler before. The good thing about TravelPost is that it does a thorough job of letting you know what your Wi-Fi options will be like in most airports.

TravelPost not only singles out the airports where you’re out of luck trying to get any Wi-Fi, but it details the paid options you can seek out if you see fit. Many web workers have come to think of hotspots as always free, but there are actually advantages to some of the low-cost paid Wi-Fi options.

If you look down the listings of airports at, notice that you’ll see many airports listing hourly and daily prices for paid Wi-Fi access, along with the service provider for the fee-based access. As you’ll see if you take a look at this, Boingo shows up frequently as one of the fee-based providers.

I’ve used Boingo in the past when I traveled frequently, and it can be a great convenience. If you travel a lot, you can pay $21.95 a month as a subscription fee for unlimited access to hotspots in countless airports, hotels, retail outlets and other locations. These hotspots are also more dependable and more secure than your average free hotspot.

TravelPost can also be entertaining for determining where the most anti-Wi-Fi airports are found. Hawaii looks to be, to quote John McEnroe, “the pits of the world” for any form of Wi-Fi in the airport–paid or unpaid. The airports at Kona, Lanai, and Lihue (Kauai) are all completely devoid of Wi-Fi.

There are still many airports where you have no choice other than paid Wi-Fi, as found at very busy and very hoity-toity John Wayne airport in Orange County, California. That’s ridiculous. No major airport in California, home of Silicon Valley, should not offer free Wi-Fi.

Do you have any airport Wi-Fi horror stories?



At ATL, the Palm store near A28 (Delta) had free Wi-Fi. I went back today and couldn’t get any at A07 though.


I’ve never really understood this feeling of entitlement to free wi-fi. Do the people who feel they should have free wi-fi have free wi-fi at home? Better yet, do they share their wi-fi freely with their neighbors? It’s one thing for a coffee shop to throw up an AP and connect it to a DSL connection and offer it for free. It is an entirely differnet beast to wire up an entire airport and offer wi-fi in all areas. It is rumoured that DFW cost about $750K to do. That’s just the build out, what about the ongoing support and service charge? IAH just recently got wi-fi throughout. So what incentive does anyone have to offer free wi-fi. Sure if the airport has competing airports around and they want people to fly at their airport, otherwise why should they? Out of the goodness of their hearts? If that were the case, parking would be free. I mean come on, what does it cost them to offer free parking? They just have to build the infrastructure once and then give it to us! When I start getting free cell phone service, cable, and food, then I guess, I’ll come to expect free Internet service also. And by the way, with the economy in a slump and folks looking for ways to cut back, do not be surprised, if your favorite free wi-fi places either shut down, or go fee based.


Kansas City Intl. *lurves* to tout its free wi-fi, but the AP’s are overloaded and there are no outlets in the gate areas.


In addition to wi-fi, one usually needs access to a power outlet. At Chicago O’Hares United terminal there are LOTS of power outlets–only the plugs are ROUND! No way to plug in! WTF.

david Eaton

It stinks. You shouldn’t get charged for WiFi and there should be WiFi at any airport of any size. But, it isn’t always the case. It shouldn’t end your world. And, if email is that critical, you should indeed carry a Blackberry or iPhone or the like. If you’re worried about Crackberry addiction and all that silly stuff, you should just exercise self-control.

I worked for myself for years. I had a Blackberry. I used it to free up my life, not increase my tethering. In fact, I’d take it on my kayak during my lunch breaks, look at it a time or two and determine if I could kayak for a one hour lunch break or two hours or three hours.


They don’t have Free WiFi at Norfolk International Airport in Norfolk, Virginia either – What’s up with that? The want to charge you $6.95 for all day access – I was only in the airport on layover for a few minutes and just wanted to check my IM’s.


@Samuel and @Andy

Just remember that not everyone in Hawaii is on vacation. Some of us live and work here and need to go to the airport to travel to clients.

Hawaii is great, but it always seems to be about 5 years behind the rest of the US.


@Andy and Lance, you are probably right. Hawaii may be the most beautiful place I have ever been, and to lament the lack of Wi-Fi is pure haole behavior. However, next time I go, I intend to get around the completely pervasive chillaxin’ over there–fully challenging Hawaiian traditions–with an EVDO card. I happen to relax better at the beach when I can check e-mail and make sure there are no red exclamation points next to my messages. I am a partial relaxer who wishes to join the ranks of complete relaxers.
A positive point about the Hawaiian airports: They do have power outlets available by the seats at the gates, and they were in use by laptop users last time I was there–a good thing for all the techies who are guaranteed a long flight back home.


Roxanne Darling

I live here in the beautiful state of Hawaii and I agree, we can do a much better job. People are physically isolated out here but let’s not be digitally isolated! Some parts of the state are trying to position us as a tech center of the pacific. Offering free wifi at all our airports would be a great way to walk our talk. Tech people travel. It’s that simple.


It’s Hawaii. You’re suppose to be going “island style” and just chillaxing.

Andy Beal

I’ve been to all of those Hawaii airports. If you’re griping about the lack of wifi, you’re kind of missing the point–you’re in paradise bra, chill on the email for a while. ;-)

Our Hawaii airports aren’t great in this area, and have a long way to go renovation wise as well.

As pointed out by Travelpost, HNL has Shakanet @ $7/hr. There are also internet terminals in the inter-island terminal. The airline lounges have free access, some of which reaches outside the lounges too. For example Hawaiian has open access in (or near) all of its Hawaii premiere lounges.


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