Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) this week unveiled 51 Samsung Mobile Charging Stations throughout its terminals, including Tom Bradley International. The 8.5-foot-tall poles each have four outlets with shelf space to support iPods, iPhones and other electronic gadgets while being charged.
In return for donating the mobile charging stations, LAX officials gave Samsung Telecommunications America space to display its latest cellular phones for travelers to ogle while waiting for flights. Marketing efforts also include Samsung signage that sits at the top of each pole. Carriers like American Airlines and United received pamphlets promoting service, too. Los Angeles World Airports will provide the electricity for the charging stations to travelers for free.
At least one LAX traveler delighted in the news. "Typically, if you have a two-hour layover, you look around for the vacuum-cleaner plug and grab a place on the carpet to recharge," says Orange County, Calif. resident Bill Pickett, who travels through several airports weekly to sell fabric to shoe manufacturers like Adidas, New Balance and Nike. "You might as well get something done with your laptop or phone while you're waiting for your connection."
LAX is the latest airport to receive Samsung's gift. In December, 50 charging stations were installed at New York's Kennedy airport. The Dallas-Fort Worth airport got eight Samsung Mobile Lounges in May 2005, complete with cushy chairs and flat-screen TVs tuned into the latest news. Samsung Telecommunications America spokesman Kim Titus says the company will seek installations at other airports soon.
Demand for electricity between flights has risen in recent years as passengers continue to carry more portable electronics. The efforts should detour travelers from plugging in anywhere, says Katherine Alvarado, spokeswoman for LAX. "People plug in wherever they could find an outlet, even if it's in a place where someone could trip over the cord," she says.
Maybe so, but the real reason for giving away an endless amount of amps to travelers has more to do with an initiative to improve customer service and lure travelers back to LAX, which also has a $723-million renovation underway to install brighter waiting areas, accommodations for larger aircrafts like the Airbus A380, and a new system for airline baggage check-in.
Renovations are long overdue, with more than 31.2 million people traveling through LAX in 2006, down slightly from 31.6 million in 2005. Recently, the airport has stepped up marketing efforts to bring back passengers. Since the 2001 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, LAX has been losing an increasing number of local residents and travelers who opt to use smaller, more convenient airports in nearby Burbank, Long Beach, and Orange County that can accommodate national flights.