Minneapolis Does Airport Wi-Fi Right!

If you do much travelling, you know how helpful it is to have reasonable wireless internet access (wi-fi) in the terminal; but not all airport wi-fi is created equal.  I just returned from a trip that included a brief layover at Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP), where I was impressed by their new approach to airport wi-fi.

For starters, MSP offers free wi-fi access throughout the airport.  But beyond that, there are many, many work areas—booths, tables, counters—that offer not only easy access A/C and USB power outlets, but also 2500 free, internet-connected iPads!

Airport Wi-fi, Workspaces, and iPads at Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport (MSP)

Airport Wi-fi, Workspaces, and iPads at Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport (MSP)

The public iPads are configured to permit open web browsing, and to completely purge all browsing data (i.e., history, cookies, etc.) either at the press of a button, or automatically a few seconds after you stop using the iPad.  And in case you wish to make an online purchase, each iPad is also connected to a credit card scanner.

I was there mid-day on a Monday and the airport was bustling with people.  There were many people using the public iPads or working on their own laptop, but there were plenty of unused work areas and iPads available.

DTW could learn about airport wi-fi from MSP (and others)

Most of my air travels begin and end at Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW), so I was pleased to see last summer’s announcement that DTW would soon offer a free wi-fi option.  Granted, you’re limited to 30 minutes free access, and you must sit through a 30-second video advisement to get started, but it’s still better than dropping $15.99 for a day pass.  But DTW could still learn a thing or two from other airports.

My favorite airport is Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), mainly because it usually means I’m heading out for another trek around Mt. Rainier, but it also happens to offer free access wi-fi.  So does Salt Lake City Airport (SLC), Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), and a number of others.

The free wi-fi airports always leave me with the feeling that DTW is a second-tier airport, at least insofar as airport wi-fi is concerned.  But MSP has redefined top-tier airport wi-fi, pushing everyone else down a notch.

Questions: Are there other airports that do anything like MSP?  What other major airports still limit wi-fi access?

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