Free airport Wi-Fi: coming soon to LAX and MSP – maybe

Free Wi-Fi at the airport is one of those amenities travelers have all but come to expect. Still, there are some airports that remain hold-outs in this department.

Los Angeles International Airport has been one of those hold-outs. Although Wi-Fi is complimentary in some airline lounges (and outside some of those lounges… if you know where to go….), but most passengers who need to get on-line must pay to use the T-Mobile service.

With T-Mobile’s contract for LAX Wi-Fi ending, airport officials announced that they’d be seeking a new service that would offer Wi-Fi for free. In the meantime, the Board of Airport Commissioners went ahead and awarded a two-year contract to Miami-based Advanced Wireless Group, which would make WiFi at LAX free – for 45 minutes sessions – starting sometime this summer.

“The service LAX passengers request most is free Wi-Fi,” said Los Angeles World Airports Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey.

But the Los Angeles City City Council has nixed the deal because of concerns that other internet providers – most notably Los Angeles-based Boingo, which provides WiFi at more than 50 airports (and many hotels) – didn’t get a chance to bid on the interim contract.

Let’s hope they work it out. Because if we have to wait for the competitive bid process to play out, it could take 18 months to two years to check email for free at LAX.

In the meantime, another Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport – another hold-out on the free Wi-Fi front – plans to offer free Wi-Fi by year’s end.