I just got back from a holiday in Bali. One of the most significant observations on this trip: many major airports in Asia have fast, free WiFi. Better yet, they don’t make you go through annoying login screens.
On this trip, I took only my iPod Touch. This is the first time I have traveled without my laptop. I brought along my mobile phone . . . just in case, but I never even turned it on. I hate roaming charges. I used my iPod Touch to check emails once every few days and I figured I would just use Skype if I needed to talk to someone. The iPod Touch was perfect for emails and web browsing.
I flew on EVA Air, the Taiwanese airline, which has a superb Economy Plus service. On the 747s you get business class seats (but economy class meals). The food on EVA Air is quite good. I don’t fly US carriers anymore after my disastrous experience with United to Japan last year. Old decrepit planes, poor service, rude personnel — these are the hallmarks of US carriers. When you fly a foreign airline, you feel as if you are in the 21st century (new planes, good service, good food).
From SF to Taipei airport takes 12 hours. When you land in Taipei, there’s free WiFi which is fast and quite reliable. This is Taiwan’s main international airport. Added bonus: fabulous duty-free with boutiques from Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Prada, and other luxury brands. If you have a long layover (over four hours), you can check into the retro transit hotel which is owned by the Evergreen Group, the same company that owns EVA Air. You pay by the hour and you get a spacious, clean room with lots of light and all the amenities you need to freshen up. Or you can take a nap. They’ll give you a wakeup call so you don’t miss your flight.
Bali Free WiFi
When I reached Bali, I was delighted to find free WiFi just about everywhere: in cafes, restaurants (“warungs”), spas, salons, yoga studios, everywhere and again, they don’t present you with complicated login screens. Just pure wireless connectivity to go along with your fantastic Balinese holiday.
When I flew from Bali to Jogjakarta (to see the Buddhist Temple of Borobodur), I went through the domestic airport in Bali. Guess what? Free WiFi and amazing foot massages. In Jogjakarta, the same. When our tour guide took us to the shopping mall in Jogjakarta (I had to get medicine for a slight cold), I discovered that the mall had free WiFi. Also in Indonesia, everyone seems to have a mobile phone and super cheap SMS rates.
The point of this post is this: there’s a lot of free WiFi in Asia and it’s easy to use with an iPod Touch because the service providers don’t force you to go through annoying login procedures.
If Taipei, Denpasar and Jogjakarta airports can give free WiFi to passengers, why can’t SFO, JFK, and the major US airports? Small US airports already do it, but what can’t the big ones? I find it absolutely disgusting and I am surprised more people aren’t up in arms about this issue.