There’s no doubt that over the past decade, airports have done a lot to make sure there are plenty of electrical outlets available. From charging stations to USB ports built right into your seat, finding a place to plug in shouldn’t be difficult. But if you’ve been in an airport during a busy holiday season, you’ve seen how quickly those charging stations fill up.
What you might not have realized is that there’s usually still plenty of room to charge your phone at that station or elsewhere—if your phone allows for wireless charging.
Wireless charging spots are usually indicated on the charging station shelf by a symbol like the one below, but the design varies from airport to airport. If your phone is Qi-enabled, making it compatible with wireless chargers, all you need to do is place your phone on the symbol and you’ll be charging cord-free. This is great news if you already have a phone with this feature, but unfortunately for most—particularly owners of iPhones older than the iPhone 8—you’ll need to buy a special accessory to take advantage of this little-known airport perk.
How to Know If You Have Wireless Charging
Today, many Android-powered phones are Qi-enabled, but only since this year’s release of the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X have Apple phones allowed wireless charging. You can check the list on this page to see if your phone is Qi-integrated.
With more phones now allowing wireless charging it’s possible that we’ll see more wireless charging spots in airports and cafes, especially now that Apple has joined the game. There has also been a recent trend of furniture integrating wireless charging spots, so it probably won’t be too long before we see them popping up on hotel nightstands, too.
If you travel a lot and are always running out of battery, upgrading to a Qi-enabled phone now could help you find a place to charge later. If upgrading isn’t an option, there are plenty of accessories and phone cases that can let you charge wirelessly: From the mophie juice pack, which also works as an external battery, to the more affordable charging receiver that slips underneath the phone case you already have, there are lots of ways to join the wireless charging scene.
Wireless charging, especially in crowded places like airports, can be a huge time-saver. You won’t have to spend time digging through your bag for your charging cables, and you’re more likely to get a spot the charging station in general—at least until everyone else catches up.
Do you think we’ll be seeing more wireless charging stations in airports? Comment below.
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Jamie Ditaranto is a writer and photographer who is always looking for her next adventure. Follow her on Twitter @jamieditaranto.