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Spring is finally coming to the Midwest, and now former governor Rod Blagojevich will get to enjoy the whole thing: A court officially blocked the allegedly bribe-accepting guv from heading to Costa Rica to appear on the NBC reality show "I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!"
It's too bad Rod will be too busy preparing for trial to hang out with, and we are not making any of these names up, "American Idol"'s Sanjaya Malakar, Dog the Bounty Hunter and (of course) Heidi and Spencer. But maybe he'd like to take a trip closer to home instead. Local reader Robert tipped us off this week that both Chicago Rockford International Airport and Decatur Airport offer free WiFi in the terminals. To quote Blago, WiFi is "a [censored] valuable thing," but you can give it away -- and we love it when you do.
Going from town to town to get our kids out of the pool hall? Don't forget to write us from the airport.
· Blagojevich Costa Rica Trip Nixed [TIME]
· Sanjaya Signs On For "I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!" [Access Hollywood]
· Airport WiFi Map [Jaunted]
The world was glued this week to the MV Maersk Alabama, a container ship hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia this week. As snipers daringly rescued the captain, the ship remains under scurvy control along with its 5,000 tons of relief aid -- avast!
The ship may fly under the American flag now but it's actually Danish in origin, having been docked in Copenhagen for years. And you know, maybe everyone on board would prefer to hide out for a while up there to throw the pirates off their trail. After all, these sea ninjas are hardly accustomed to long voyages, despite their facility for taking things that isn't theirs.
Soon enough the crew would be waiting at Kastrup International Airport to go home, where they could log in for $10.63 an hour (60 DKK) and send the world's greatest excuse: "Sorry I couldn't make it, I was kidnapped by pirates."
Trying to find something of yours which has been hijacked by pirates? Don't forget on your way out to make them walk the plank to use the airport internet -- and let us know about it!
However, their loyal readers might end up waiting until they get back to hear about the trip. With Sydney Airport's WiFi provided by Telstra at a whopping $14/hour, and competitor Optus at $13.20, that free promotion might not be worth it. It's nice that the airport looked to inspire competition among its ISPs, but that should be driving prices down.
Taking Tourism Australia up on their offer? Let us know how the WiFi beams.
· Everyone Wants You To Go To Australia But Are You Really Gonna Go? [Jaunted]
· Australia Loves Bloggers, Invites Them Down Under [Jaunted]
· Airport WiFi Map [Jaunted]
We love getting some good Airport WiFi tips and what better way to let us know of a decently-equipped airport than by someone in the airport using Twitter. That's what @SEKeener did recently. Sean was in Christchurch and Twittered this:
#Christchurch newzealand airport has 15 min free wifi. Overall, Internet access difficult and exp as traveler in NZ. My only neg about NZ.
When we checked the details, the WiFi coverage at Christchurch Airport might be free for fifteen minutes but it's not that easy to find--there are just a couple of relatively small hotspot areas, although the smart thing is they are centered on departure lounges.
So basically Christchurch Airport gets a reasonable thumbs up but WiFi in New Zealand deserves only a thumbs down from Twitterer Sean. Given that this is the land where airplanes have to wait until traffic controllers finish eating, you can't be too surprised that it's a tricky place to log on.
There is something afoot in Dallas. One would think the home of Web-savvy Southwest would be an Internet-friendly kind of place. Yet we weren't able to pick up a wireless signal there, and we heard an announcement for Internet access... in the pre-security business center, hotel-style.
With the airport's official website somewhat less than useful, we turned to T-Mobile, who confirmed there is--or was--a hot spot at Love Field recently. Maybe our netbook took the day off. Can you solve the mystery of the missing hotspot? We'd "love" to pretend this was all a bad dream.
Want to send out some love or hate for an airport? Let us know.
· Southwest to Prettify Dallas-Love Field [Jaunted]
· Missed Connections in Dallas: They Don't Call It "Breakup Field" [Jaunted]
· Airport WiFi Map [Jaunted]
Good news for anyone bent on razzing Flack4RIC on Twitter (uh, us?): Richmond International Airport has free WiFi. All the better to upload your photos of the mysterious, potentially paranormal light shows which even Matt Drudge has taken an interest in.
According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, the bright streaks of light reported around Richmond and Baltimore are probably pieces from a Russian space experiment gone bust. But the National Weather Service has no explanation for the Sunday-night show, which in some areas included a loud booming noise around 9:45PM.
Seen anything creepy on your trip? Tell us about it!
If you happened to feel a little weak in the knees last week in Costa Rica, it wasn't your imagination: The peninsular nation just survived a 5.9 earthquake, although luckily there were no reported casualties this time (a slightly bigger January quake left 23 dead).
If you're flying into Juan Santamaría International Airport, the country's main airport in the city of San Jose, you can get online but be prepared for a little shakeup: You can't pay for service online with a credit card; instead, you need to buy a prepaid card to get ourself online. Ask for a tarjeta inalámbrica.
Got an airport WiFi tip for us? We'd love it.
The last time we were in Helsinki, we honestly believed it was enchanted. Stumbling off a flight from New York, we entered a well-scrubbed terminal with bright yellow trays at a clean cafe and cheery flight attendants zipping from one end of the terminal to another on scooters.
Had we tried to boot up while we were savoring our coffee and plotting to become Finnair frequent flyers, we would have found another delight: As of November 2008, wireless Internet is free in the terminals at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport thanks to Finava, the national civil aviation administration. Now your fingers can fly with as little resistance as you do!
Had a fantastic experience in an airport recently? Tell us about it.
Welcome, friends! South Africa recently announced it would be relaxing its immigration policies to allow political refugees from Zimbabwe to live and work legally in the country. Despite the ascension of Morgan Tsvangirai to the country's highest office, food shortages are running as rampant as inflation on the legal currency and cholera is rearing its ugly head -- with no evidence that the situation will change any time soon.
Should these Zimbabweans choose to come by plane to Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport, they'll be getting a better deal on their Internet access than native South Africans, but only just: 50 minutes is 50 rand ($4.77) in the domestic terminal through Mweb but the same amount gets you 60 minutes in the international terminal on the airport's network. And in these troubled times, every cent counts.
Let us know you're safely plugging in all over the world -- send us your Airport WiFi stories.
· SAfrica to ease immigration rules for Zimbabweans [International Herald Tribune]
· The Saxon Hotel in Johannesburg: Opulence in a High-Security Prison [HC]
· Airport WiFi Map [Jaunted]
Mexico City managed to be left off the State Department's recent warning on travel to Mexico -- not because spring breakers are less likely to go there than Cancun or Cozumel, but because the outbreak of violence in the country has been concentrated further north. But the city is seeing plenty of through traffic as North Americans head to sunny destinations further south.
Japanese Tom Hanks Hiroshi Nohara liked Benito Juarez International Airport so much he lived there for almost half a year. But he must not have been checking his e-mail there -- at the price of $0.50 a minute through Telmex, he would have run out of funds long before being able to Priceline a ticket home. Sorry, those pics of you and your friends doing shots of tequila may not get uploaded to Facebook until after you've arrived home.
Reading your RSS feeds on spring break? Tell us where you picked up the signal.
Our own Brendan Spiegel is down in Panama this week and will be reporting back on all that he's seen and done. Whether or not he's wearing a Panama Hat, we can't say. But if you have any questions or suggestions for him, let us know.
The answer, quite surprisingly, is just about everywhere. Cosmopolitan Panama City is a telecommunications hub, with tech businesses like Dell, MCI and Swisscom basing much of their Latin American operations here, creating a mini-Silicon Valley along the isthmus. Consequentially, the Internet infrastructure across the country is years ahead of the rest of Central America.
You don't have to have any geek cred to know about Japan's advances in technology. It's popularly believed that Japanese consumers get new tech three to five years before we do, making a trip to Tokyo to ogle cell phones feel like a preview of the 2012 Research in Motion CES booth -- only with killer fashions.
Narita International Airport probably doesn't have robots that will carry your luggage or mind-reading software in its cafes. But we think it's pretty forward that Terminal 2 has free wireless access. (Terminals 1 and 3 have Boingo access, which according to our metaphor means they are stuck here in the present with us.)
Hey, if you're reading this in the future, will you write to us and reassure us that more airports will follow Narita's lead?