8 Unspoken Rules of the Airport Charging Station

By: Lindsay MacNevin

There might be nothing worse than arriving at your gate, learning your flight is delayed a few hours, your laptop is dead and there isn’t an unused electrical outlet anywhere. The charging stations are filled with people using multiple outlets, kids running around and passengers having hour long phone calls. And you start to wonder, what are the acceptable rules around the charging stations at airports? We have compiled a list of eight rules that we think should just be common sense at an airport charging station.


8. One Device at a Time

Whether you like to share or not, this is the time to be an adult and share the outlets. We aren’t asking you to give up all your outlets, just two out of three that you are using. The unspoken rule here is only charge one device at a time, because honestly, who needs to charge more than one. Also, we aren’t sure if you know this but if you are charging your phone while talking on it the whole time, it is going to take a really long time to charge. We suggest taking 20 minutes, plugging in your device and leaving it be. Ensuring you get the maximum charge and other people waiting can use the outlets. Sharing is caring.

Charging Station

7. The Time Limit

Although there are no posted time limits, let’s be frank and admit that we secretly hope one day this happens. Unless of course you are the passenger who has been hanging out at the charging station for four hours. We think an appropriate time limit is no longer than an hour, unless of course you are working. We get that waiting at the airport is boring, but is it really necessary to watch a three hour movie while plugged in? The chairs aren’t even that comfortable! Plug your device in, let it charge, and move on. The less time you spend here the better for the rest of the population.

checking watch

6. No Loitering

What is even worse than spending three hours hogging the station is hanging around waiting for someone to finish. We are talking about the people who sit under the charging station, silently stalking every single user, waiting to jump for their turn. We are talking about the people that loom over us while we charge our devices. Let us make one thing clear. The more you loiter, the more time every single person is going to take to use that outlet. It is uncalled for and rude and the best thing you can do is take a walk and come back an hour later, maybe there will be an empty outlet, maybe not.

Look Over Shoulder

5. No Sharing

Do you ever go to the movie theater, plunk down beside a stranger and start eating their popcorn? No? Well that is the same equivalent to sitting down beside someone at a charging station and using their charger without asking permission. It’s not about if the charger is just sitting there unused, it is not about sharing here. Never ever use someone’s charger without permission. More than likely they will happily share with you if you ask, but only if you ask nicely.

Use Phone Charger


4. Bag on the Floor

Your oversize carry-on bag does not deserve its own seat on the plane, nor at the charging station. The crowded charging stations are already filled with enough people, electronics and children that your bag is just taking up more valuable space. It doesn’t go on the seat next to you, it doesn’t go on top of the counter, it should go on the floor, preferably under your seat where no one can trip on it.

Checked Baggage

3. No Food or Drink

We have all been there, accidentally knocking over our coffee at home on our desk. We jump up, pick up our laptop, run to the kitchen, grab the towels and hopefully salvage our precious device. This is one place you don’t want to do this. All it takes is someone knocking over a cup to ruin a $5000 laptop and you better hope that it wasn’t your cup or your fault for knocking it over. People’s electronics are expensive and they mean a lot to their owners so please, if you need to eat or drink, do it somewhere else.

Food Laptop
CaseyMartin / Shutterstock.com

2. Don’t Ask Anyone to “Watch Your Stuff”

It is perhaps the most spoken rule throughout the airport, you hear it on the loudspeakers, the check in agents remind you, but still it seems that people using the charging stations forget this rule. Don’t. Asking someone to watch your stuff because you want Starbucks (which is also a no no), is like asking them to be responsible for the evacuation of the airport, because who really knows if there is a bomb in your bag or not. It is not okay, not at the charging station, not ever, to leave your bags with someone else at the airport.

Charging Laptop

1. Never Ask Someone to Unplug

This trumps all the rest of the unspoken rules and chances are if you make this mistake once, you will never make it again. Never ask someone to unplug their device, as they are clearly using that outlet. Asking them to unplug is like asking someone on a pay phone to hang up their phone call. Because these charging stations are first come, first serve, you just have to wait until someone is done. But do feel free to read this aloud on your slowing dying tablet while you stand (not loiter) near by.

Unplug Phone