No. 10: San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
Competing with Oakland International and San Jose International to serve perhaps the most tech-savvy market in the country, San Francisco International Airport must contend with travelers' high expectations regarding tech amenities. For the most part, it delivers. The airport averages 13.6 outlets per gate, by far the most in the United States for such a large airport.
SFO has some older terminal buildings, but the spanking new Terminal 2 -- home base for Virgin America -- may represent the future of air travel. T2 is simple, clean, and spacious, with a distinctly high-tech ambience: It looks and feels like Silicon Valley.
Virgin America played a major role in designing the terminal, right down to the signature mood lighting that Virgin America uses at its ticket counters and gates. The interior is filled with cool lounge areas and tastefully appointed gates that make you feel as if you're in someone's living room. Even more important, the place is loaded with electrical outlets and spacious desktops. We counted almost 400 outlets and 144 workspaces in T2 alone.
The other terminals at SFO have a fustier feel to them, but designers have retrofitted plenty of those terminals' gates with new outlets in the walls and on poles; and many gates now also have sets of two- or four-cubicle desks, complete with electrical outlets.
No. 11: Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport isn't big on electrical outlets (2.65 per gate, on average), and it provides less than one USB port and less than one work desk per gate, on average, but its free Wi-Fi service is terrific. We measured average download speeds of 11Mbps and uploads of 7.25Mbps in our Wi-Fi tests. Verizon cellular service was exceptional, too, averaging 11Mbps for downloads and 7.5Mbps for uploads.
No. 12: Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)
Some of the seats in the gates at Raleigh-Durham International have power outlets, and some of the tables have USB and power outlets beneath the tabletops. But like Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood, RDU ranks high on our list because of its Wi-Fi. Though the AT&T service isn't free, it's fast; we measured average speeds of greater than 14 mpbs throughout the airport -- the fastest airport Wi-Fi service we saw in our tests.
No. 13: Nashville International Airport (BNA)
Nashville's airport provides 20 minutes of free Wi-Fi per user, after which you have to buy a day-pass from Boingo. Still, Boingo's service is solid at BNA, averaging 2.8Mbps for downloads throughout the airport, and you can pay as you go for $4.95 per hour. Delta and Southwest have tricked out their gate areas in the B and C concourses, respectively, with freestanding charging stations that include USB ports.
No. 14: Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP)
Many of the gates at Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport have free charging stations, including Samsung "power poles," Clear Channel sit-down charging stations, and Delta charging stations. The airport also offers "power seating": Many of the tables in the food courts and in some of the restaurants have power outlets nearby, so travelers can recharge their devices as they eat. MSP also has a few business centers for users who need a desk and some quiet.
Delta has announced plans for an iPad installation in the G concourse at MSP similar to its installations at New York's JFK and LaGuardia airports. Passengers will be able to sit at an iPad kiosk or restaurant-style table and order food from 12 different restaurants in the terminal. Work on the new installation is slated to begin in 2012, and should take 18 months to complete.