Philadelphia Airport Makes Passengers Pay To Charge Their Devices Before A Flight?

Philadelphia is a generally poor airport. Some airline employees even call it Filthadelphia. And the airport can’t seem to even provide basic services to passengers without an upcharge – like outlets?

In fact the real scourge here is not paying for power – it is OTG self-serve food ordering.

Let’s be clear, at a certain point in time paying for airport wifi made sense. It was far better to have wifi offered for a fee than not to have it offered at all. A decade ago in American Airlines Admirals Clubs only club members got free internet, while those entering on day passes or with a Platinum Amex had to buy wifi.

Now that’s no longer the norm. Available wifi is a basic expectation, almost anywhere that you’re considered a customer or guest and you’ll be staying for some time. Even inflight wifi is moving closer to free. JetBlue has had this for years. Delta is still testing it on some routes, and plans to offer it free on domestic mainline flights next year.

Power is a basic need, both inflight and in airports. When there aren’t enough outlets, it’s possible that charging (hah) for their use could ration them so that they’re used by the passengers who need them most. Except here those outlets are at seats, at crowded gates, and so you’ll likely find someone sitting by the outlet not charging devices. In other words, the power outlet doesn’t even get used.

But what’s going on is that the credit card swipe is to pay for food to be delivered to your seat. There’s an iPad there. OTG is all about the iPads. That cuts down on staffing. And by putting these at the gate, people order more – because they tether themselves to the gate even if it’s 30 minutes before boarding and won’t go spend money at shops. This brings the shops to them.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary, just stop. Do your research. The poster is an idiot. PHL is no better or worse than most airports. That reader is for food / drink ordering. At least get the idiots who are posting.

  2. Why did you even post this if you were eventually going to point out that was an OTG sales terminal? Why?

  3. He probably posted it for SEO. Judging from the tweet people thing or wonder this, so they’re probably searching it. They will find their answer!

  4. Anyone savvy enough to read this blog knew what this photo actually was.

    Ever wonder why airports and hospitals are constantly under construction? The answer is that many are hugely profitable but have nonprofit status?

    In theory the reinvestment helps society. Airports have unquestionably improved in last 10-15 in facilities but have never been worst in service. Those $12 fees on each ticket should be spent more on service, not a more grand atrium sculpture/water feature.

  5. Who travels without a power pack now? A 10000mAh pack weighs less than an iPhone and costs about $30.

    I learned long ago to not count on an airport, or airline, for power or entertainment

  6. Filthadelphia & the city of brotherly shove have been in wide local use for a long time.

  7. Back when USAir was around I was flying them often and I would do my best to go through Pittsburgh and dreaded any flights through Philly. The airport was just a dump and the people very unpleasant. Been years since I’ve gone through Philly and unfortunately Pittsburgh lost the hub with USAir and I have no idea what it is like now.

  8. I fly out out of PHL weekly for work. Granted if I have extended delays, I’ll charge up in the admirals club. But never seen a charge for power in terminals B/C by any gates…I don’t think this post is correct.

  9. Yeah, this isn’t accurate regarding the pay-to-charge. As for the airport itself being unpleasant, I suspect that has a lot to do with the terminal. Flying out of A-West internationally is actually on of the nicer experiences.

    But let’s recognise what great about PHL. It’s proximate to the city centre. For an older, big city that’s a big deal.

  10. And you bothered yourself to make a click bait post about this. I think you are even worse than the Dr who tweeted about it.

  11. Gary the headline on the boardingarea home page is missing the question mark. That makes the headline inaccurate.

  12. Now there’s a scam idea – install credit card readers near working outlets. People assume you have to pay, scan card, you collect the numbers…

    It’s a good thing I have no idea how to proceed beyond that point. Nor where to buy a credit card scanner that could collect numbers. Or the intention of commiting such a crime. I’m more of an idea rat…

  13. Phl airport needs a BIG Facelift~! I was ther friday and saturday old and old I lived there 35 years ago and the gate areas still look the same… We stayed at the connecting Marriott and that is another mess… old worn out!! “worn hard and put away wet” comes to mind…. needs a serious re-do also and their staff needs to crosstrain and not hang aound doing zip!! Before going to my Mom’s funeral we wanted breakfast at 7:45 one was in the restaurant but we were told it will take tooo long…so we ordered tae out–it too over 45 minutes with no one in theplace and we could not charge to the room tho we were staying there another night..NUTS cusomer mariott NO service…

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