Published in El Pais, 21 August 2018.
When I was at the Lima airport I had a lot of time to kill. My layover was 8 hours long and there are only so much browsing you can do at the mediocre stores before boredom kicks in. Of course one can prepare for such events, bring a book or tv shows on your laptop works, and thanks to the large adaptation of Wi-Fi in airports one could even get a full days work done if your layover is long enough. Now wifi in airports seems to be the new norm which is why I was completely surprised when the airport in Lima offered only 30 minutes before making users pay for the premium service. Considering the increasing time needed to arrive at the airport and the long length of layovers this is simply not enough.
This may seem like a trivial problem but the fact is our electronic devices are becoming an integral part of travel as we use our phones as tickets, get updates on flight statuses, and contact our friends and family on when they can expect our arrival. Furthermore people can be more productive with their time as they can work away from their office.
Now if you manage an airport you may not care as at first glance there is nothing in it for you, while travellers will appreciate it the fact is travellers will not avoid airports because of a lack of Wi-Fi. However, if done properly free Wi-Fi could be a new source of revenue. Most airports free wifi is at a much slower speed that can really only be used for WhatsApp or email. This low level of service may not seem like much but for many it can be a life line and for those looking only to work it is all you need. For the airport this is not just a service but a platform where they can offer add space, a similar revenue model that companies use with free mobile applications. The airport can also offer a premium service with much faster internet as another source of revenue.
I guess the lesson here is that airports offering internet seems to be a win-win situation for all those involved and for those offering a time limit, especially a small one, they really need to rethink their priorities, for their sake and for ours.