How do I power my USB devices on an airplane?

If you are going on a short plane ride, we suggest instead of plugging in, you just bring fresh batteries and maybe a backup. You cannot guarantee the plane will have power, and getting it to work requires even more hardware, wires and luck.

  • Choose the Right Seat

Planes do not have a power adaptor at every seat, so when booking a flight and you are prompted to choose a seat, go to www.SeatGuru.com, look up your plane and locate available seats with power. SeatGuru indicates seats with power by a black dot. You may be warned that not all versions of your plane are have the same and may not have available power.

  • Get an Airplane Power Adaptor (if you can find one)

Airplane power adaptors are an odd plug not used anywhere else. It's about as big around as a dime and has 4 pins. Only two of the pins are used for anything you'll care about and can be easily converted to a car DC power socket -- that is IF you can find one. Apparently they exist, but we were unable to find one in 4 airports, Radio Shack, Fry's Best Buy or CompUSA.
The only one we could find was bundled with a Power Inverter (A cheap-o, brand-x thing from Fry's, $15). The Power Inverter included an Airplane Plug adaptor for a car power socket that was connected to the unit. NOTE: Most Power Inverters do not include the Airplane adaptor.

  • Using In-Flight Power

You may have to hunt for the socket. Sometimes it is under your seat, in the arm rest or under the seat in front of you; You can always ask. Power is not continuously enabled during flights and not all sockets work.