You sit down at the airport, ready for (or relaxing during) a big day of travel. You have the perfect spot, closer to a power outlet than to annoying people. And right when you open your laptop, you realise... you have no idea how to get on the nearest wifi, or even what its password is.
You can try the “Free Airport Wifi” you see in your list of networks, but is that even the right network to use? And what if the connection is garbage? Are you going to have to—gasp—read a book, instead?
Don’t stress. There are plenty of different techniques, services, and apps you can use to get your wireless connection working—and working well—at the airport.
Check the greatest list of airport wifi names and passwords
I love this website, this Android app, and this iOS app. They all do the same thing — give you a gigantic list of wireless networks and passwords you can look up the next time you’re sitting around your airport, wondering what you should connect to (and how to do it). While this might not matter if your airport has free and obvious wifi, the genius of these tools is that you can also get the wifi passwords for various airport lounges. If you aren’t fancy enough to get in, and the customer service agents won’t cough up the wifi password no matter how nice you are, you might be able to use this list (and its passwords) to leech much better wifi than your airport’s default network.
If you’re feeling generous, be sure to use the apps to contribute any changes or updates to the gigantic list o’ passwords.
Try other apps to find great wifi networks
If you’re not sure if you should connect to “Free_airport_wifi,” “_freewifi,” “fly the friendly skies of wifi,” or “freest wifi,” you can turn to other resources for a little help. Apps like Instabridge and WiFi Map are great for separating real public hotspots from someone’s unruly laptop or wireless access point. Since they’re crowdsourced, you shouldn’t trust them blindly, but they can help point you in the direction of free, nearby wifi you can use when you’re travelling—or stuck in the airport.
I’m also a fan of Flio, which is a general “flight companion” app that comes with lots of information about airports you’re passing through. If you need to look up the name of an airport’s official wifi, odds are good you’ll find it here. (App in the Air is another solid alternative that also lets you look up a lot of info, even when you’re offline.)
Don’t cough up your credentials for free wifi
— Andy Stanford-Clark (@andysc) March 15, 2019
If your airport’s free wifi comes with conditions — namely, you have to give up personal information like your name, email address, or favourite colour, resist the urge the participate in this marketing. Those running the airport wifi have no idea what your actual information is, so feel free to give them dummy information: good ol’ [email protected] should make an IT person smile, if they even notice it in the logs.
How to force a wifi login page to appear
If you sign on to your airport’s free wifi, but you can’t pull up its interstitial “give us your email address,” “click here to get going,” or “here’s an ad, enjoy” page to get the wireless connection officially working, here’s a small trick. Type routerlogin.net into your browser’s address bar and hit Enter, which should redirect you to the “connecting” page.
Others have reported a variety of addresses that have also worked well for them, including:
126.96.36.199 (Google’s DNS server)
The gateway IP of the router you’re connecting to (which you can look up via the command prompt / terminal)
If, or when, you connect, don’t forget to fire up your trusty VPN before you start using the connection to browse the web, log into websites, or buy things online to kill time.
Smile politely at usage restrictions
If, for whatever reason, the wireless network you’re using at the airport has some silly restriction in place — you only get an hour’s worth, or some other limited amount of time for free — you can try spoofing your system’s MAC address to see if that resets the clock. Log off the wifi, use the spoof app to change up your system’s MAC address, and whatever you’re connecting to will see a completely new PC. This unique identifier, after all, won’t match the system you were just using...
Also, if you’re trying to connect to the wifi with a device like a handheld gaming console — that doesn’t have a built-in browser you can use to accept the terms and conditions for using free wifi—change your laptop’s MAC address to your console’s, accept the terms and conditions, then disconnect. When you go to use the internet on your gaming console, you should then be totally fine (assuming you aren’t being authenticated via another method, like browser cookies).