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1st Class Seat Power on AA 737-800 - low wattage issues...?

1st Class Seat Power on AA 737-800 - low wattage issues...?

Old Jan 13, 2023, 1:15 pm
  #1  
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Post 1st Class Seat Power on AA 737-800 - low wattage issues...?

I just had a three flight segment travel day, all on AA 737-800 metal and was not able to get my laptop charger to function on any of the flights. I did some basic troubleshooting, which included a test with a couple of iPhone chargers and the latter did in-fact work. The FA confirmed that the power was on, the green light on the outlets was the usual bright green, and I did see various seat mates use them normally.

My immediate conclusion was that my laptop charger suddenly "fried" and was toast. So I arrive at IAH and before heading to my Hotel pass by a Best Buy to purchase a new power brick..... luckily, in a rare stroke of genius, I decided to test my "assumed dead" brick on a normal 110VAC outlet at the store and..... SURPRISE, my power brick works just fine.

So then..... I have a demanding laptop (MS Surface Book) that has a somewhat larger than normal demand for juice, if Im not mistaken its rated at 127W. Are the AC outlets on aircraft somehow tweaked for safety reasons....? I am doomed to not having access to AC power in the air because of the demands of my power supply...?

Thanks !!
Alex / Gaucho100K
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Old Jan 13, 2023, 1:22 pm
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Above 100W gets dicey with in-seat power. I use a 99W charger for flying for my Dell XPS 15 which has a 130W charger in the box.
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Old Jan 13, 2023, 1:38 pm
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Normally the problem I have is the brick won't stay snugly plugged in due to the contacts in the outlet being worn from the many plug / unplug cycles.
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Old Jan 13, 2023, 1:40 pm
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Originally Posted by mwk190
Normally the problem I have is the brick won't stay snugly plugged in due to the contacts in the outlet being worn from the many plug / unplug cycles.
​​​​​
Bring a EU/UK adapter. Always works.
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Old Jan 13, 2023, 1:45 pm
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Same thing happens with a MacBook Pro charger, when the rectangular OEM apple charger is connected to a surge protector connected to the airplane power; the power source stops working due to high wattage requirements. However, the charging will work when I disconnect the rectangular charging brick, and only connect the USB-C end of the laptop charger cord to the surge protector to the power supply. I would recommend purchasing a portable surge protector and a charging cord that can connect to the surge protector that doesn't draw any excessive wattage.
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Old Jan 13, 2023, 2:50 pm
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The UK/US adapter is the way to go for the mechanical connection for in seat power. They are cheap (10-15 bucks). Between the thicker prongs and grounding prong they are very secure in the in seat power connector. I got one with two USB A slots and a standard U.S. plug receptacle.

The in seat power is only rated for 75 watts and then it shuts down. In actual practice some chargers (transformers) at start up actually temporarily draw more current (inrush current) and will trip the breaker for the outlet. If it's close, you can try plugging the brick in, quickly removing and plugging back in (like 1/2 second between cycles) and SOMETIMES this will work (tested with a Anker 65W brick).

I am comfortable to say a 100W brick won't work on an AA seat power.

Hope this helps!
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Old Jan 13, 2023, 3:13 pm
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Originally Posted by Gaucho100K
So then..... I have a demanding laptop (MS Surface Book) that has a somewhat larger than normal demand for juice, if Im not mistaken its rated at 127W. Are the AC outlets on aircraft somehow tweaked for safety reasons....? I am doomed to not having access to AC power in the air because of the demands of my power supply...?
I had the exact same issue with my SB3. Would trip immediately. Surface Book 1 would work fine.

They'll work up to 99 Watts in my experience, some will crap out at 75.

What I did was carry a lower wattage charger. It won't charge the SB but it would run the machine without chewing through battery.
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Old Jan 13, 2023, 3:16 pm
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I leave my higher power chargers for my notebook in the office and home and use the base one when travelling - Will power the device but barely charge if using it at the same time. Lid closed with it will charge at an OK rate. Main reason was tripping power on an aircraft. E.g. my 96 watt charger I use at home will trip the aircraft power, the step below - 67 watt one - WON'T
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Old Jan 13, 2023, 3:45 pm
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speaking of low power the jacks on the 777's are really slow as in so slow if you are using your device while plugged in not only will they not charge you might even lose a few percentages of battery power.
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Old Jan 13, 2023, 4:29 pm
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Originally Posted by enviroian
speaking of low power the jacks on the 777's are really slow as in so slow if you are using your device while plugged in not only will they not charge you might even lose a few percentages of battery power.
The USB ones are 1.5 Watt from what I saw so on some devices you are better off using a power adapter in the AC outlet vs the USB port
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Old Jan 13, 2023, 5:35 pm
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Thanks to everyone for your posts and detailed information. Im quite sure it was not a mechanical/non connecting issue... it was the brick drawing the full wattage as my laptop was at 2% battery. Do the airline give you details as to what the maximum wattage they provide...? I guess I will buy a travel charger for air travel, should I look for something thats below 100W or do I need to go lower to the 70W range to be extra sure...?

Thanks again.
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Old Jan 13, 2023, 5:37 pm
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Just to make sure I understand.... does the fact an adapter has the third grounding prong make a difference in the Wattage draw...? Or do the better adapters also do something about maximum power transmission....? Sorry, not an EE and mostly technically challenged, hence all the dumb questions.

Originally Posted by MIAFlyer
The UK/US adapter is the way to go for the mechanical connection for in seat power. They are cheap (10-15 bucks). Between the thicker prongs and grounding prong they are very secure in the in seat power connector. I got one with two USB A slots and a standard U.S. plug receptacle.

The in seat power is only rated for 75 watts and then it shuts down. In actual practice some chargers (transformers) at start up actually temporarily draw more current (inrush current) and will trip the breaker for the outlet. If it's close, you can try plugging the brick in, quickly removing and plugging back in (like 1/2 second between cycles) and SOMETIMES this will work (tested with a Anker 65W brick).

I am comfortable to say a 100W brick won't work on an AA seat power.

Hope this helps!
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Old Jan 13, 2023, 5:42 pm
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Final silly question.... it seems that the "approved" travel chargers will draw a Maximum of 67W. So, if I buy one, I assume my laptop will not charge if I wish to charge and use at the same time, but if I shut it down and just charge it this should work - although at a very slow rate.... am I getting it...?

Im hoping that a 67W brick will be enough for me to at least semi-charge (or drain the battery very slowly) for when I need to use it.

I will be shopping for a travel charger this weekend, the ones I saw the other day were all around $100 - which at first glance seemed like a rip off. Guess Amazon will tell me what they are really worth....?

Thanks again to all for your tips.
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Old Jan 13, 2023, 5:54 pm
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Originally Posted by Gaucho100K
Just to make sure I understand.... does the fact an adapter has the third grounding prong make a difference in the Wattage draw...? Or do the better adapters also do something about maximum power transmission....? Sorry, not an EE and mostly technically challenged, hence all the dumb questions.
No. The comments about the UK plug was about contact. In this case, it appears that the plug connection isn't the issue.

What you need is an adapter that will draw less power (wattage).
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Old Jan 13, 2023, 6:06 pm
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Yes, a bit of follow up here. The comments about using a UK adapter are centered around making sure the plug fits securely in the socket. I imagine (but can not confirm) a two rounded prong Euro or Latin American plug would also work better than the plain U.S. plug on the aircraft.

A completely separate issue is the size of the charging brick. While some folks say a 99 watt brick will work, my understanding is the outlets are rated at 75 watts max. So if I were shopping for a new charger, I would get one at 75 watts or less. There are plenty to choose from, especially if your laptop uses a USB C connection. Even if the laptop draws 100 watts, that is typically at peak power with peak demand. A 65 watt charger will certainly charge when the laptop is closed and at rest, and will slowly charge (or slow the rate of discharge) depending on the power draw when the laptop is being used.
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