Although cellphone calls are still banned on planes, the airline industry has come to accept that nearly every passenger now packs an electronic device that occasionally needs recharging.
United Airlines, the nation's second-largest carrier, announced last week that it is installing nearly 500 charging stations at its gate areas. Each station has six 110-volt power outlets and two USB ports.
The airline said the charging stations will be installed at Chicago O'Hare International Airport by the end of March, followed by its hubs in Los Angeles, Houston and Newark, N.J., and at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. Stations also will be added at LaGuardia Airport in New York and Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans.
Bob Hope Airport in Burbank got into the act last week by completing the installation of nine charging stations in terminals A and B. The charging stations are attached to the back of chairs and countertops. Each station has 12 USB ports and 12 plug-in outlets.
"We had some outlets before but they were not in mind for passengers," airport spokesman Victor Gill said. "They were near the ground for maintenance workers to run vacuum cleaners and stuff."
The airport got the outlets installed at no cost under an agreement with an airport advertiser, Alliance Airport Advertising, the same company that arranged the airport's free wireless Internet with sponsorship from local television station KABC-TV Channel 7.