Tech

6 Airport Wi-Fi Hacks You Need to Know Before You Fly

Published On 09/21/2015 Published On 09/21/2015
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Airports are the worst. Food is overpriced, people are rude, and the TSA procedures remind you of that nightmare you had after you watched Seven. Normally, browsing through Facebook and the grossest subreddits known to man would ease the pain of this experience, but you’ve got better luck getting cheap, reliable Wi-Fi at the Vatican than an airport.

So, to make sure you’re never stuck in another terminal staring longingly at your screen, here are some hacks to help you get back on the Internet.

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Click on Boingo's partner pages to get past the paywall

Airport Wi-Fi systems often have partner pages, free sites you can use to get unlimited Wi-Fi access. If the airport is using a Boingo hotspot, go to the homepage > The Good Stuff  > click on one of the free pages > open a new tab. Leave the first tab open and browse to your heart's content.
 

Trick the network into resetting your time limit

Airports know how long you’ve been on their Wi-Fi based on a Media Access Control (MAC) address, a specific number assigned to your computer or device. If you run out of time and get booted from the network, download the Technitium MAC Address Changer for Windows or Linkliar for OS X to change your MAC address, fooling the network into thinking you’re using a different computer.
 

Type "?.jpg" at the end of the URL

This is an old trick, but it still works at some airports. If you add ?.jpg to the end of the URL of the site you’re trying to visit, you can get around the Wi-Fi restrictions. Keep in mind, this hack only does its job if the network allows images without a redirect.

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Use the developer tools console to get around the paywall

Sometimes, airports prevent web browsing simply by disabling the address bar. If you're using Chrome or Firefox, you can use a technical trick to get around this.

Chrome: Click View > Developer > Developer Tools. A somewhat complicated screen will pop up. Find the search bar, and enter the following formula to get to your site of choice: window.location.href=”https://www.google.com.”

Firefox: click Menu > Developer > Web Console > click the double-blue arrow on the bottom left of the screen. Use the same format as above to get to a site. 

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Find Wi-Fi passwords in the comments sections on Foursquare

If you're loitering outside a lounge in the hopes that the Wi-Fi signal reaches you, it's not gonna help if you don't know the password. Thankfully, generous folks on Foursquare have been known to post this password info in the comments section of a given lounge. 

Like here. And here. Oh, here too. And... you get the idea.
 

Turn back the clock on your computer

When all else fails, sometimes simply changing the clock on your device will do the trick. If the airport offers free Wi-Fi for a limited period of time -- say, an hour -- then you can change the time on your computer or phone when the window is almost up. It's an incredibly easy trick that sometimes does work.

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Joe Oliveto is a writer for Thrillist and would probably empty his bank account for airport Wi-Fi. Follow him on Twitter.

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