Planning a trip to the US which involves cross-country flying? Depending on your airline, you may have a power outlet or USB port in your seat. Here's how to find out which planes have some extra juice to give.
The focus on the US in this list reflects the fact that in Australia, at-seat charging is fairly rare for domestic flights. Some newer model planes flown by Qantas do offer USB ports at each seat, even in economy, but being able to plug in only happens once you board international flights. Power at seats is rather more common in the States, and it can be useful to know if it's an option when transferring to a longer internal flight.
Of course, you should always charge up your gadgets before you leave. If you use them in the airport, try to grab an outlet to stay charged -- bringing a powerboard with you will help a lot (and make you some friends along the way). However, if you need an outlet, many airlines offer options, so just like we did with Wi-Fi on US flights, let's take a look at some of the most popular US airlines and what they offer.
As you'd expect with US flights, you'll need an adaptor to plug your own Australian devices in. This is one context where a specific Australia-to-US adaptor makes more sense than a universal one which covers other countries; the latter's extra bulk makes them awkward to use on board. If you're charging via a USB cable, this is obviously less of an issue.
Which Airlines Offer Power Outlets, And Where
If you want to get an idea of which airlines offer power outlets before you start booking, here's a list of the most popular US airlines with some details.
- Virgin America: Virgin offers one standard and two USB outlets between each seat (so you share with the person next to you).
- AirTran Airways: There are no power outlets on AirTran flights, according to SeatGuru.
- Delta: For domestic flights, you'll find power outlets only in First Class on select 737 and 757 aircraft, and all 767-300 aircraft. USB ports, however, are available in all seats on 737-700, 737-800, 757-200, 767-300, 767-400ER, and 777-200ER and LR aircraft that feature Delta on Demand. For international flights, Delta has 110 volt power outlets in all BusinessElite seats in A330, 747-400, 757, 767-300ER, 767-400ER, and 777 aircraft, as well as in the first 10 rows of Economy Class on A330, 767-400ER and 777 aircraft and select 757 and 767-300ER aircraft.
- Southwest: There are no power outlets on Southwest flights, according to SeatGuru.
- US Airways: There are 110V AC ports in Envoy and First Class seats only on the 757-200, 767, 330-200, and 330-300 aircraft. The 330-300 also has 15V DC ports in economy seats, for which you'll need an adaptor. The 330-200 include USB ports in every seat, and the 330-300 has USB ports in Envoy seats only.
- United Airlines: You'll find 110V power outlets in premium seating only on 747-400 aircraft, though power outlets are coming to United Economy in 2013-2014. International fliers will find 110V power outlets on some 737-800 and 757-300 aircraft.
- American Airlines: American has power on most its its planes, though some are DC EmPower outlets instead of traditional AC power and may require an adaptor. First and Business Class seats have outlets at every seat, while the main cabin has shared outlets between seats in "select rows" of the plane. Exceptions include the 737-800 aircraft, which has shared power in all rows, and the 777-300 aircraft, which also has AC and USB power at every seat.
- Air Canada: You'll find DC EmPower outlets in all First Class seats of Air Canada's planes, though you'll need an adaptor to use them. You'll also find them in Economy seats on the A319 and A330-300 aircraft.
- Alaska Air: There are no power outlets on Alaska Air flights, according to SeatGuru.
- JetBlue: You'll find DC EmPower outlets in all First Class seats of JetBlue's planes, though you'll need an adaptor to use them. You'll also find them in Economy seats on the A321 and E-190 aircraft.
This isn't an exhaustive list, and includes the most up to date information that we could find. When we could find info on a given airline's web site, we went with that -- but if an airline didn't have info, we checked SeatGuru's database.
If you want a more detailed list with more airlines, check out SeatGuru's ultimate guide to laptop powerports, or look up information on your desired airline's web site. While you're at it, be sure to check out our complete guide to making sure your next flight doesn't suck. Good luck!