Oliver Smith, The Daily Telegraph, May 30, 2013
Just four of Britain’s 25 biggest airports offer free unlimited Wi-Fi access, new research has revealed.
Aberdeen, Birmingham, Edinburgh and London City airports each provide air passengers with limitless internet access free of charge – but 21 others, including the country’s five busiest, do not.
The study, by the website Airport Parking and Hotels, found that the most expensive hourly charges are found at Luton, Leeds Bradford and Cardiff. All three airports charge fliers £5 an hour, while visitors to Durham Tees Valley, Doncaster Sheffield and Liverpool John Lennon are charged £4.50 an hour. At all six airports, no alternative tariff is available for those who want longer access.
At Belfast International and Exeter, travellers are charge £5.99 for 90 minutes of internet access, or £9.99 for a day.
Britain’s two busiest hubs – Gatwick and Heathrow – both charge £3.95 per hour or £9.95 for a whole day, although passengers at the former are permitted 15 minutes of free use.
Meanwhile, Blackpool International offers ordinary passengers no wireless internet – the only option is to pay £16 to enter the Executive Lounge, where Wi-Fi is free.
Ten airports – Bournemouth, Bristol, Glasgow, East Midlands, Humberside, London Stansted, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich and Southampton – offer 30 minutes of free access before charges apply.
Nick Trend, Telegraph Travel’s consumer editor, said: “If McDonalds and Starbucks can offer free Wi-Fi to their customers, who might spend just £2 or less on a coffee, why can’t airports do the same?
“Passengers are already paying to use the airport when they buy a flight ticket, and then pay over the odds for food and drinks while they are there – having to pay again to check your email will leave them feeling understandably frustrated.”
Hotels have also faced growing criticism in recent years for continuing to charge guests for Wi-Fi. A study of 70 different individual hotels and hotel chains by Telegraph Travel last year found that just 24 do not impose fees. Luxury hotels in London were the worst offenders, with several charging £20 for a single day’s access.