UAE travel industry embraces wireless charging

As the joke goes, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs now begins with battery, not food, warmth, shelter or water. So how do we ensure we keep the juice flowing when we travel – the time we need our phones, tablets and laptops most?

“The advent of smartphones and tablets has revolutionised the way business travellers can communicate while travelling,” says Premjit Bangara, the general manager of travel for Sharaf Travel Services. “However, the flip side is that modern batteries tend to drain quickly.”

Airlines and airports have been quick to recognise this, he says, and have created multiple charging points – particularly in lounges and seats on-board. “All carriers operating out of the UAE and GCC operate this facility on board long-haul flights and they are also available on some short-haul flights,” he says.

Emirates has gone as far as installing 30 of Aircharge’s wireless charging valet trays – which uses a magnetic field to transfer power wirelessly to the device – in its first and business lounges at Dubai International.

“Mobile devices are an intrinsic part of our lives, and at Emirates we see free Wi-Fi and wireless charging on the go as becoming the norm in the future travel experience,” says Mohammed Mattar, the divisional senior vice president of Emirates Airport Services.

In the United States, United Airlines is the latest carrier to spot the demand and is installing 500 charging stations at its gates.

Chargifi is a company that sells wireless charging hotspots that businesses can use to attract customers. Its stations are already at several UAE hotels – including the Sheraton Dubai – and in coffee shops in DIFC and the Dubai Marina. They will launch soon with Singapore Airlines.

“We believe wireless charging will become as ubiquitous as Wi-Fi,” says its Middle East chief executive, Lucy Crabbe. “The ability to travel and leave the cords and cables at home is no longer a fictitious dream; it’s the future.”

Apart from being annoying, there can be some real issues if you do not have any battery.

Since 2014, airport agents in countries such as the US, United Kingdom and Canada – and stopover countries en route – may ask you to switch on battery-powered devices to prove they work. You risk having them confiscated or even being denied boarding if they are drained dead.


Any equipment I should bring to charge on the move?

A car charger, your longest cord and an extra battery if your laptop’s is not built-in. Good gadgets include a travel adaptor with built-in surge protection and a solar-powered pack or charger. “Battery packs can enhance life by three to six hours and are an indispensable part of a traveller’s kit,” says Mr Bangara.

Any tips for better charging?

Switch to airplane mode to charge faster. Spend five minutes cleaning up the charging port and both ends of the cable with toothpick, cotton bud and surgical spirit – dirty pins could slow your connection.

What if I go off-grid?

The Satsleeve from Thuraya, which provides satellite cellular services in 140 countries, transforms your iPhone or Android into a satellite smartphone. “A Sim from Du or Etisalat should not be required – the sleeve will connect directly with Thuraya’s satellites and your billing relationship will be directly with them,” says Omar Kassim, the chief executive of JadoPado, which stocks the device.

Any quick ways to save my phone life?

Charge all devices the night before you travel. Don’t leave them switched on while on the move and turn off Wi-Fi – and even cellular data – when not online. Turn down screen brightness, remove unused apps and check which use battery-draining location services. Download a battery life-improving app, such as Juice Defender for Android or Battery Doctor for iPhone.


Suzanne Locke

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