Skype offering free WiFi access in 50 airports this holiday season

Skype is offering free WiFi in select airports for the holidaysVideo conferencing service Skype is giving the gift of free airport WiFi this holiday season, offering travelers in the U.S. the opportunity to place video or voice calls to friends and family while on the go.

Starting tomorrow, December 21st, and running through Tuesday, December 27th, Mac, PC, and iOS (iPhone, iPad, etc.) users will gain access to third-party WiFi hotspots in 50 different airports across the country. Skype users only need to login to the service and then check their wireless network connection to see if they are on a supported hotspot. Or better yet, you can check to see if an airport you’ll be traveling through over the holidays is covered in the promotion by using the handy-dandy interactive map that you’ll find by clicking here.

Skype seems to have most of the major airports in the U.S. covered with this free giveaway, including Chicago‘s O’Hare and Midway, Atlanta‘s Hartsfield-Jackson, New York‘s JFK and LaGaurdia, and Denver International. A good portion of holiday traffic is likely to go through those airports alone, but there are a number of others, both large and small, that are part of the Free Skype program as well.

This might be a handy service to have if your flight gets canceled or delayed this holiday season and you want to reach out to friends or family to let the know. Additionally, when the inevitable holiday blizzard hits, and you find yourself stranded, you can still feel a part of the festivities, even if you have to settle for an airport hotdog while the rest of the family dines on Christmas ham.

Free airport WiFi for Nintendo 3DS users from Boingo Wireless

free airport wifiBoingo Wireless and Nintendo have teamed up to bring Nintendo 3DS owners free airport WiFi access in 42 airports across the United States, including Chicago O’Hare, New York JFK, and Houston George Bush Intercontinental.

The Nintendo 3DS is already a great travel companion, with its open-source Internet browser and built-in camera, not to mention a catalog of hundreds of addictive games featuring real 3D graphics. This new feature is one of several included in a system update that became available for download yesterday.

“Nintendo 3DS is our most connected device ever, and this agreement will allow people to stay entertained while they’re on the go,” said Zach Fountain, Nintendo of America’s Director of Strategic Partnerships. “Whether it’s accessing special offers and content, downloading items from the Nintendo eShop, receiving surprise SpotPass content, or automatically receiving 3D videos from the Nintendo Video service, there have never been more reasons to connect.”

Free airport WiFi from Boingo will also include access to Nintendo’s SpotPass feature, which allows the system to detect wireless hotspots and download special content from Nintendo, including exclusive promotions, 3D videos, and add-on game content.

Boingo manages wireless access in more than 400,000 locations around the world, including airports, hotel chains, cafes, restaurants, convention centers, and metropolitan hot zones. Their service generally costs $7.95 per 24 hour period in the United States, with monthly unlimited plans starting at $9.95.

Majority of upscale hotels charge for Internet access

Majority of luxury hotels charge for internet access

To be filed under “This does not surprise us at all” comes the news that approximately 75% of upscale and luxury hotels charge hotel guests for Internet and/or wifi access in their room.

According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association 2010 Lodging Survey, three-quarters of all hotels in the luxury hotel chain group, a category that includes brands such as the Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton, charged patrons a daily fee to access the Internet in their rooms. Compare that to only about two percent of hotel chains classified as “mid-range” that charge for wifi. A CNN article on the survey also noted that some hotel chains that offer both upscale and mid-range lodging brands will charge for Internet at the upscale facility but provide complimentary wifi access at its mid-range brand.We at Gadling have long been of the mind that free wifi is a hotel amenity that should be standard, like clean towels and indoor plumbing. Hell, “No Free Wifi” is the reigning champ of Gadling’s Hotel Madness Championship. So to learn that most luxury hotels are charging a fee for wifi when the overwhelming majority of mid-range hotels is not is enraging [emphasis very much my own].

Of course, the main reason luxury hotels charge a wifi fee is because they can. There is the assumption that anyone paying $500 or up per night for a hotel room can easily afford $10 to $20 per day for wifi. Additionally, many bookings at upscale hotels are paid for with business expense accounts, so who cares about extra internet fees? I care. And so should you.

So I say to you chain hotels, the time has come for you to drop the wifi fees at all of your properties. While you may not increase your customer base, you will win some serious PR karma and – who knows? – perhaps a nod in a future Gadling article.

Think about it, ok?

Photo courtesy Flickr user generated

Last day to vote in the Hotel Madness championship!

Today is the last day of voting to decide which pet peeve will win our Hotel Madness tournament. Thousands of votes have been cast over the last several weeks leading up to this exciting championship match. Now, with hundreds of votes already cast, we are just hours away from crowning our winner. There’s still time, however, for you to make your voice heard. Will you vote for the dominant #1 seed No free Wi-Fi or the upstart #7 seed Bad water pressure? Do you value free internet connectivity or the ability to rinse the shampoo out of your hair? Both pet peeves are annoying, but only one will be named Hotel Madness Champion.

So, who will it be? Which hotel pet peeve bothers your the most? Head over to the poll right now to vote!

Championship voting ends at 11:59EDT tonight.

Hotel Madness: The Final Four

gadling hotel madness tournament pet peeves final four
With two rounds in the books, only the biggest, most annoying and burdensome hotel pet peeves remain in our Hotel Madness tournament. The second round featured some of the tournament’s closest contests and featured one impressive upset. Resort fees squeaked by One-ply toilet paper by a mere 23 votes while the #7 seed Bad water pressure dumped cold water on Bad front desk service’s title hopes. We’re inching closer to crowning our champion and learning just which hotel nuisance bothers you the most.

Our two Final Four match-ups are listed below. As always, vote for the ones that bother you the most. The two winners will advance to the championship round to battle it out for Hotel Madness glory ignominy. Be sure to vote in both polls and check back to see who wins.

hotel madness gadling wifi wi-fi resort fees
#1 No free Wi-Fi vs. #4 Resort Fees
Our number one seed continued its dominating run in the second round. No one seems to want to pay for internet access. However, it has yet to face an opponent that also attacks our wallets. That run ends now. The #4 seed Resort fees was far from impressive in the second round but continued to show that hotel guests don’t like added fees, especially when those fees are so ambiguous. So, is it worse to pay for internet access or for whatever the heck resort fees cover?
hotel madness tournament expensive parking bad water pressure
#3 Expensive parking vs. #7 Bad water pressure
Showing just how much people detest paying extra for anything while traveling, our #3 seed coasted into the Final Four. Since many trips simply require a car, guests seem to resent being forced to pay for parking. Meanwhile, the biggest surprise of the second round was #7 Bad water pressure simply annihilating the #2 seed Bad front desk service. Clearly, people value their showers. Whether you’re on a beach vacation or need to look good for business meetings, you need your shower to be on top of its game. Well, which grinds your gears more?

Final Four voting ends at 11:59EDT on Wednesday, March 30.

Catch up on all of the Hotel Madness first and second round action:
The entire second round
#1 No free Wi-Fi vs. #16 Annoying hotel TV channel
#2 Bad front desk service vs. #15 Everything about TV remotes
#4 Resort fees vs. #13 Early housekeeping visits
#5 No airport shuttle vs. #12 One-ply toilet paper
#6 No free breakfast vs. #11 Expensive minibars
#7 Bad water pressure vs. #10 Small towels
#8 Room not ready on time vs. #9 Early checkout times

Follow along with the Hotel Madness tournament here.