As evidenced by the older Ethernet port installations at 16 gates throughout the airport, Dallas-Ft. Worth has been serving tech-savvy passengers for longer than most U.S. airports. These days, wired Ethernet ports are giving way to Wi-Fi access points and cellular amplifiers, to meet the needs of passengers who want to be connected and mobile. DFW's paid Wi-Fi service (through T-Mobile) produced respectable speeds in our tests, averaging 2.73Mbps for downloads airport-wide. The airport's cellular signal wasn't bad either: Verizon and T-Mobile clocked average download speeds of 4Mbps; AT&T averaged 3Mbps; and Sprint averaged 1Mbps.
DFW has benefited greatly from partners like Samsung, whose 64 charging stations, seven "mobile travel lounges," "power stations" (work stations with power outlets), and large flat-screen TVs are ubiquitous in the airport.
Augmented by the extra Samsung outlets, DFW boasts an average of 7.2 electrical outlets and 3.0 USB ports per gate. A fair number of Internet kiosks and work desks (with outlets and USB ports) are scattered among the gates, too.
No. 2: New York JFK International (JFK)
Only a few years ago, it was nearly impossible to find an outlet at JFK. But more recently the airport has added numerous useful amenities, such as desks and counters with outlets, to some -- but not all -- of its terminals. JFK Terminals 2 and 3 (thanks in part to Delta) and Terminal 5 (thanks in part to JetBlue) offer the largest number of work surfaces and electrical outlets, as well as decent free Wi-Fi. Other JFK terminals look old and dull, with tech amenities to match. Your best option in those terminals is to buy Boingo wireless service or use your own cellular signal.
JFK's new Terminal 5, which opened in 2008 at a cost of $800 million, is spectacular. T5 is JetBlue's new primary U.S. hub, but it's more than an airport terminal. It's a glossy-looking cultural center filled with cool shops, upscale restaurants that look like clubs, and over-the-top architectural design; concerts are sometimes held there.
JFK Terminals 2 and 3 host some upscale restaurants, a few of which will take your order from an iPad kiosk in the gate area and bring your food out to you. Delta and its restaurant management partner OTG installed these iPads -- more than 180 of them -- which anyone can use to check email, surf the Web, and order food. Next to each one is an electrical outlet equipped with USB ports for charging your devices as you sit there. Sadly, the iPad kiosks have become so popular that finding an open one during peak traveling hours can be difficult.
Plans are in the works to expand the number of iPad kiosks and tables at Delta's JFK operations significantly in the next few years. OTG spokesperson Sean Aziz says the company plans to put the next wave of public iPads on tethers, so that users can hold the device in their hands and interact with the content more easily.
No. 3: Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
Atlanta is the busiest and the largest (170 gates) airport in the United States. Consequently, supplying passengers with power, workspaces, and Wi-Fi at all its gates is a massive undertaking. But Atlanta's airport authority seems to have risen to the challenge in recent years.