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Reconnecting with family and friends over the holidays doesn’t mean disconnecting from everyone else. Enjoy internet access over the holidays by using our holiday guide to finding free travel Wi-Fi during your journeys.
Free Wi-Fi hotspots
Most people know you can access free Wi-Fi at public locations, such as Starbucks and McDonald’s. But you can also get Wi-Fi from less typical businesses, such as Megabus and select gas stations. Plus, a variety of internet providers give customers, and even non-customers, access to their Wi-Fi hotspot network.
How to find free Wi-Fi near you
Most providers offer a Wi-Fi hotspot locator online or in their app, but if not, these free apps for iOS and Android can help you find free Wi-Fi wherever you travel:
- WiFi Finder – WiFi Finder shows you a map of public free Wi-Fi spots but also Wi-Fi that requires a password.
- WiFi Master – WiFi Master helps you find hotspots anywhere you travel and connect to Wi-Fi networks with just one tap on the blue key in the app.
- Osmino WiFi – Osmino WiFi allows you to locate Wi-Fi hotspots around the world with Wi-Fi hotspot maps and other user reviews.
Unusual free Wi-Fi hotspots in your area
Most people think of coffee shops when trying to figure out where to get free Wi-Fi in new places. But there are plenty of interesting stores, restaurants and businesses where you can get Wi-Fi if you need to work over the holidays or get out of your in-law’s home for a couple of hours.
- Select Kohl’s stores – Not only does free Wi-Fi help you save data as you finish last-minute holiday shopping, but sometimes your login can trigger a Kohl’s coupon.
- Megabus buses – Although Megabus.com warns that not every bus has Wi-Fi service, many Megabus rides allow travelers to enjoy free Wi-Fi. On top of that, the Megabus RIDE app offers free movies and TV shows to watch as you commute across the country to see family.
- Particular gas stations – A growing number of gas stations provide free Wi-Fi to drivers. For instance, Love’s travel stops offer Wi-Fi access to any rewards member and Pilot Flying J has free Wi-Fi inside every location.
- Public parks – A variety of public parks in New York City have free Wi-Fi, but the Big Apple isn’t the only city with free, public Wi-Fi. From Mt. Etna Park in San Diego to Freedom Park in Charlotte, you can find free outdoor Wi-Fi across the country.
- Auto maintenance stores – Various vehicle repair and maintenance stores provide free Wi-Fi to customers. While it depends on the location, chains such as AAA, Jiffy Lube, Valvoline and others offer free Wi-Fi so you can relax or work as you get your car prepped for long, holiday trips.
Free internet provider Wi-Fi hotspots in the U.S.
AT&T hotspots – AT&T offers thousands of free hotspots across the U.S. and says you don’t need a network key or password. AT&T doesn’t have a map of hotspots but encourages using a hotspot locator app to track down AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots.
Cox hotspots – Cox has a network of more than 650,000 Wi-Fi hotspots for Cox customers. Even if you’re not a customer, you can log in to one of their hotspots with a free, one-hour pass. Access the Cox Wi-Fi network at any outdoor hotspot location to register for the pass, which you can use once every 30 days.
Spectrum hotspots – Spectrum provides a free WiFi Finder App for locating Spectrum Wi-Fi hotspots. If you’re a Spectrum or Time Warner Cable customer, internet access is complimentary. Guests can sign up for an Access pass for 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi usage.
Xfinity hotspots – By using the Xfinity WiFi App, Xfinity customers can access Wi-Fi hotspots all over the nation. However, guests can access the internet at certain Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots with complimentary access. Certain hotspots direct users to a “Not an Xfinity internet customer” page where you can renew complimentary sessions every two hours.
What about free Wi-Fi at airports?
Flying home for the holidays usually means time spent in airport waiting areas wishing you could hop onto free Wi-Fi. Some airports do have free Wi-Fi, and others have free internet with conditions. So, here’s a list of airports where you can find free internet over the holidays and stay connected during any layover.
- Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC)
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
- John Wayne Airport, Orange County (SNA)
- Long Beach Airport (LGB)
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
- Oakland International Airport (OAK)
- Sacramento International Airport (SMF)
- San Diego International Airport (SAN)
- San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
- San Jose International Airport (SJC)
- Denver International Airport (DEN)
- Hartford-Bradley International Airport (BDL)
- Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
- Miami International Airport (MIA)
- Orlando International Airport (MCO)
- Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW)
- Tampa International Airport (TPA)
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
- Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL)
- Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW)
- Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
- Indianapolis International Airport (IND)
- Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY)
- Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)
- Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
- Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW)
- Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP)
- Kansas City International Airport (MCI)
- McCarran International Airport (LAS)
- Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
- John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
- LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
- Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)
- Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)
- Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)
- Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE)
- Port Columbus International Airport (CMH)
- Portland International Airport (PDX)
- Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
- Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)
- Nashville International Airport (BNA)
- Austin Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
- Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL)
- George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
- San Antonio Airport (SAT)
- William P. Hobby Airport (HOU)
- Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
- Dulles International Airport (IAD)
- Reagan National Airport (DCA)
U.S. airports with free Wi-Fi access by state
Most of the airports listed above give people free, unlimited Wi-Fi access, but some of them provide a limited amount of free internet access. For instance, Austin-Bergstrom International, Minneapolis/St. Paul International and Raleigh-Durham International offer 45 minutes of free Wi-Fi, and you must pay for premium internet access.
Which airports have the fastest Wi-Fi?
If speed is what you need while waiting around in the airport, Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) has the fastest Wi-Fi network among the 51 largest airports in the U.S. and Canada, according to a study by Speedtest.net.
With a mean download speed of 145.12 Mbps, Honolulu’s airport Wi-Fi was 37.5% faster than second-place winner Chicago Midway. In third place was Washington state’s Sea-Tac airport with Nashville International and Phoenix Sky Harbor rounding out the top five.
What if an airport doesn’t offer free Wi-Fi?
Airports that don’t have free Wi-Fi often use Boingo to power premium Wi-Fi. But, if you have home Wi-Fi service with Spectrum or have a specific AMEX credit card, you may be able to access Boingo for free.
Now that you know where you can enjoy free travel Wi-Fi while on the road this holiday season, you can maximize your internet connection during every pit stop, layover and last-minute shopping trip.
Originally published 11/01/18. Last updated 10/30/19.