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How to Get Free WiFi in (Almost) Any Airport

Welcome to FlyerTalk 101, a guide to traveling like an expert from the experts. For more guides like this, check out our FlyerTalk 101 tag or head to the forum links in this article to have any of your questions answered.

In 2019, the places where you can get free WiFi are starting to outnumber the places where you can’t. Climbing Mount Fuji? Time to connect and upload a brand new Tinder profile photo that shows you’re adventurous. Trekking to the North Pole? Your eyeballs might freeze, but at least you can complain about it on Twitter. Scientists even blasted a temporary WiFi signal to the moon in 2014; yet, somehow, all the technological advancements in the world have not awarded us a reliable, free signal at most airports.

Plenty of airports offer free WiFi, but getting it to work is a whole different story. It’s notoriously unreliable, which is the last thing you want to deal with when you finally land in a foreign country without an international cell phone plan and have to call yourself an Uber.

These WiFi hacks will make sure you never have to use your data plan as long as you’re waiting for your flight.

Get WiFi Passwords From This Master Map

Sometimes free WiFi is as easy as knowing the password. This long-running, constantly updated Google Map offers free WiFi passwords at airports around the world. It even tells you how to connect to the McMurdo Air Station in Antarctica in case you ever find yourself searching for the ice wall with a group of Flat Earthers and need to update your friends on Facebook.

Hack The Airport Time Limit

Most free airport WiFi has a time limit—and somehow, it never seems like enough. Since they track your time using a MAC address (a media access control address that’s stored on your network card) you can actually subvert the system by changing that address.

Changing the address makes the WiFi network believe you’re using a totally different computer. You can do this on Windows with Technitium MAC Address Changer or Mac with LinkLiar. You can also do it on your own with this tutorial, but it’s kind of complicated if all you want to do is refresh Instagram for three hours.

The “?.jpg” Trick

This doesn’t always work because it’s an older trick, but it’s still worth a shot. Get around WiFi restrictions by adding ?.jpg to the end of the URL you want to visit. This only works if the network allows images to load without a redirect.

Get Past The Boingo Paywall

If you’re a frequent traveler, the words “Boingo” probably make your skin crawl as much as the idea of being jammed into a middle seat next to a screaming toddler and someone eating boiled eggs. It’s that tease of free WiFi only to realize you have to buy a monthly subscription when all you wanted to do was tell your grandmother that Facebook will not take ownership of her photos if she doesn’t copy and paste a certain status.

For everyone who’s unfamiliar, Boingo is a major WiFi provider that’s used at airports and hotels around the world. Though some American Express users can get free access, their hotspots have partner pages that any user can browse for free. Of course, they’re mostly just businesses trying to sell you stuff, which is a terrible way to pass the time before your flight, but you can use these partners pages to trick Boingo into giving you free WiFi.

To get free WiFi, navigate from Boingo’s homepage to a section called “The Good Stuff.” This is where Boingo lists all the partner pages. Click on one of their partners and leave the website open in your browser. Open a separate tab and browse freely until you’re bored. This trick won’t always work, but when it does, it certainly helps ease the sting of spending $20 on an airport sandwich because your flight is delayed and you’re starving.

Get On An App

Leave your WiFi fate to a simple app. WiFi Map helps you find passwords to the closest WiFi Networks. The crowd-sourced list has password information for more than 100 million hotspots around the world. You can also sometimes find WiFi passwords in the comments on FourSquare.

Turn Back Time

In the words of Cher, if you can turn back time, if you can find a way, you’ll be fast-tracked to free WiFi. If you’re running out of time on your free browsing session, simply turn back your computer’s clock. Unfortunately, whether or not this method actually works is always a toss up.

Get WiFi From An Airport Lounge

Some travelers swear that you can sit next to an airline or first-class lounge and pilfer the free WiFi. This is always worth a shot, but it’s not really reliable. A more surefire bet is to buy access to an airport lounge. Of course, that means the WiFi isn’t technically free, but if you use a service like Lounge Buddy, you can get access for as little as $25. This means you’ll pretty much break even if you planned on having some drinks and food at the airport anyway.

DCAFly January 13, 2020

Using free wifi at an airport...what could possibly go wrong. Perhaps the author should have at leat recommended using a VPN if using free airport Wifi.