Thursday, August 21, 2008

How to Get Free Wi-Fi at Airports that Charge for Internet Connections

If you're stuck at an airport that charges for Internet connections, here's a solution: Go to the gift shop and ask for a a free Wi-Fi pass.

That's what happened to me last week. I was in LaGuardia Airport and my flight -- surprise, surprise -- was delayed. I decided to use that gift of time to check my e-mail and do a little bit of work. So I charged up the laptop and tried to go online. No luck. The airport offered a pay-as-you-go system called "Boingo" and I was not able to hitch a ride on any of the other unsecured Wi-Fi systems.

But while looking at the Boingo pay-now portal, I noticed that there was slot for a promotional code. HMMM?

Minutes later in the gift shop, I saw a stack of "15 minutes Free Wi-Fi" coupons from Boingo. Boingo provides Wi-Fi at over 500 airports, 17,000 hotels (Marriotts & Hiltons, etc) and 9,000 McDonald's.

Hmm. The clerk gave me a Boingo card and I sat down to log on for free minutes. The promotional code did not work, but I called the tech support number and the Boingo customer rep offered me a complimentary code that would get me online while I was waiting for my flight.

That did the trick. My flight was called and I had no need for the free pass. But I learned the following lessons:

1) Inquire about free Internet passes at the airport gift shops.

2) If there are no passes, go to the fee-based Wi-Fi portal (web site) and look for a toll-free number. Ask the customer rep for a promotional code that will provide you with free minutes.

By the way, the customer service number for Boingo is 1-800-880-4117. I'm keeping that number with me when I travel.

I'm hosting a Q&A session at a Wise Bread Forum. Please stop by and say hi . Your questions and comments are appreciated.

Here's the note from the folks at Wise Bread:

"For this entire week (8/18- 8/24), Sharon Harvey Rosenberg (The Frugal Duchess) will be answering questions in our forum about blogging, personal finance, and her new book Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money Anywhere "


Here's how to buy my new book:

@ Barnes & Noble
@ Borders

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