Are There Power Outlets On Southwest Planes? –

Charging station etiquette

Tony Webster, Power Outlets via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Tony Webster, Power Outlets via Flickr CC BY 2.0

No matter how you choose to charge your devices, keep these charging station etiquette tips in mind:

  • If you don’t have a device to charge or you’re already done charging your device(s), move away from the charging station to allow other travelers to power up before takeoff.
  • If there are no empty spaces available to plug in, but you see someone else’s device is fully charged, don’t unplug it. First, identify whose device it is by asking passengers standing or seated near the charging station. Most folks stand at or keep a close eye on their devices, so it shouldn’t be hard to identify whose electronics are occupying the space you want.
  • Keep an eye on your device. Some charging stations have seating. Make yourself comfy while waiting for your device to charge, so they don’t go on a one-way trip without you.
  • If you must walk away from your device, return periodically to check on the charging progress. Don’t keep fully charged electronics plugged in as other travelers may be equally eager to charge their devices before take off.



Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has 240 electric outlets and 204 USB ports, including 36 sets of tables and chairs equipped with power outlets and USB ports in all three terminals. Additionally, the airport has installed 28 three-sided “Get Plugged In” charging kiosks, including one ADA accessible side, with six electrical outlets and six USB ports that are located in the lobby areas as well as in several gate areas past security in all three terminals. An additional 72 outlets and 36 USB ports will be added airport-wide soon.

Chicago OHare International Airport

Photo courtesy of United Airlines.

The airport offers power stations with seated workstations that have plenty of counter space in its four terminals. Each station seats up to eight and also has one that is wheelchair accessible. Terminal 1 has nine stations, Terminal 2 has two, Terminal 3 has six and Terminal 5 has one. United Airlines has also installed its own branded power outlets throughout the airport.

Boston-Logan International Airport

Photo by Benét J. Wilson

In the mid-2000s, this airport underwent major upgrades in its terminals. Among the things done was to install these seats that have individual power outlets. And if you still have trouble finding an outlet, you can call 1-800-23-LOGAN (56426) and they will tell you where to find them.

Comparing the Southwest and Spirit frequent flyer programs

Rapid Rewards (Southwest’s loyalty program) and Free Spirit (Spirit’s loyalty program) are relatively similar to one another. This wasn’t always the case, since it was only recently that Spirit Airlines modified their program to be more useful and practical for not-so-frequent flyers. Prior to 2020, it was pointless to earn points on Spirit if you flew with them infrequently (since points expired relatively quickly).

These days, both Spirit and Southwest feature loyalty programs as feature-rich as those of the mainline carriers.

All the ways that the Southwest and Spirt frequent flyer programs are similar

  • The higher levels of each program earn points at a faster rate
  • The bottom tier of each program gives you perks like fast-track security access and priority boarding
  • The top tier of each program gives you additional perks such as free drinks (and bonus points)

All the ways that the Southwest and Spirt frequent flyer programs are different

  • Southwest has two tiers of frequent flyer status (A-List and A list Preferred). Sprit has two three levels (Basic, Silver, and Gold)
  • Reaching the lowest tier (A-List) on Southwest requires flying 35,000 miles (or 25 qualifying segments) in a calendar year. Reaching the lowest tier on Spirit (the basic membership) is free. All you need to do is sign up. The next level (Silver – equivalent to Southwest A-List) requires earning 2000 Status Qualifying Points (SQP) in a calendar year.
  • Reaching the top tier (A-List Preferred) on Southwest requires flying 70,000 miles (or 50 qualifying segments) in a calendar year. Reaching the top tier on Spirit (Gold) requires earning 5000 SPQs in a calendar year.
  • Earning or redeeming points at least once in a 12 month period will keep your Spirt account active. On Southwest, points do not expire.
  • Family members can pool their points together to earn rewards on Spirit Airlines. This is not possible on Southwest.

Do All Airlines Have Power Outlets and USB Ports?

The answer to this question is simple: no, they do not. However, many of the larger airline companies do have some type of accommodations for people who wish to charge or use their various electronic devices once they get on the plane. These include:

  • Air Canada: Most flights have 110V AC power outlets near each seat; usually have a USB port at each seat
  • AirTran: No power outlets are provided
  • Alaska: Most do not have any power outlets
  • American Airlines: Power outlets found on most of their planes, although some are DC outlets only; most First Class and economy flights have power outlets; in the main cabin, the outlets are sporadically placed
  • Delta Airline: Power outlets found only in first class on some domestic flights; USB ports found in most other flights
  • Jet Blue: Some flights have power ports at every seat; they are internationally compatible and do not require a charger; the Mint Experience cabins have two power ports
  • Southwest: No power outlets are provided
  • United Airlines: 110V AC ports in premium seats in some planes; power outlets on some international flights; it is reported that power outlets will be included in most Economy seats very soon
  • US Airways: 110V AC ports in certain First Class and Envoy seats; 15V DC ports in certain economy seats, although you’ll need an adapter; some planes have USB ports in each seat and others have them only in Envoy seats
  • Virgin America: One standard and two USB ports located between each of the seats, meaning you may have to share

As you can see, each airline is different in both the number and location of airplane outlets and USB ports they offer.

If you’re planning to be on a plane anytime soon, therefore, you can always contact the airline company and find out for sure what they’re able to provide to you regarding these devices.

There are also different types of outlets and ports provided by these airline companies, and they include the following:

  • AC power: usually 110V AC power; can be used for your phone, tablet, or computer.
  • DC power: typically 15V DC power with up to 75 watts per outlet; it is similar to the cigarette lighter in your vehicle.
  • EmPower DC power: available in more than 40 airlines; you’ll need an adapter to hook into it.

Again, checking with the airline company before you take off is a smart idea, because this is the best way to be prepared ahead of time and learn what you need to do before you board the plane if you want to use your electronic devices while in the air.

You should also keep in mind that most airlines offer only 75 watts of power for each seat, which means larger laptops may not get what they need to fully charge.

Other airline companies ask their passengers not to charge their devices, but to use the power outlets just for occasional use.

Either way, it is smart not to count on the airlines to provide you with fast, comprehensive charging capabilities while you’re in the air.

The good news is, even older airplanes are being retrofitted with power outlets and USB ports these days, which means it is very likely that the airline you use most will soon have these advantages, if it doesn’t already.

You can go online and check out these things so that you are better prepared before you board the plane.

Since the costs associated with updating planes with airplane outlets and USB ports is expensive, we should all be grateful that the airline companies are willing to do more to accommodate our obsession with our electronic devices, especially because they are not charging us more just for the convenience of it.

Editorial Team
Editorial Team

A few final thoughts about this comparison

This Southwest vs Spirit comparison was probably one of the most valid of comparisons that I’ve done so far. For example, when I compared Southwest to Delta, it was difficult for me to whittle it all down into a succinct summary of both similarities and differences. After all, Delta is a huge global airline. Southwest is not.

Comparing Southwest with JetBlue was a little easier, but Southwest is more like Spirit than JetBlue IMHO.

The moral of the story is this: you can’t go wrong flying either Spirit or Southwest anywhere within the continental United States. If either of these two airlines show up in your flight search offering a nonstop flight (when the mainline carriers force you to connect at a hub airport), it would be very wise of you to choose to nonstop option.

As a matter fact, that’s probably the best thing about these two airlines. Since they don’t adhere to the hub-and-spoke business model, they are often more convenient than the mainline carriers.

Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts about this comparison. Has either of these two airlines screwed you over in the past? Also, why do you prefer one over the other? I’d love to know in the comment section below!