This international travel necessity is the secret to a better domestic flight

Nov 22, 2020

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Thanksgiving is around the corner.

Despite the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidance to stay home this holiday, millions are taking to the air in numbers that we haven’t seen since the skies emptied back in March.

If you are one of the ones traveling right now, odds are that you’re headed somewhere within the country. With most countries closed to Americans, there simply aren’t many international destinations to visit.

But even if you’re keeping your passport in the safe this year, there’s one international travel necessity you shouldn’t forget to pack. And that’s an international power converter.


So you can avoid one of my travel pet peeves — wobbly power sockets.

Universal power outlets on Delta’s Airbus A220-300 accept all types of plugs

At this point, most major U.S. airlines offer power outlets across their domestic fleet. But just because they’re available doesn’t mean your charger is going to stick inside the outlet.

Some domestic planes operate four to five (or more) flights a day. Assuming everyone needs some juice, a charger might be plugged in or removed from a given outlet 10 or more times in a span of 24 hours. Multiply that across a year, and you’ll end up with loose power sockets.

For years, I’ve played Tetris trying to arrange my chargers in the perfect geometric configuration to ensure that it sticks in the airplane outlet. (Check out my Instagram page where I’ve detailed many of my attempts.) And then, I thought, enough is enough.

On one trip, I was headed home from Europe with a domestic connection from New York to Florida. My laptop was dying as I boarded the domestic Delta flight, and I desperately needed some juice.

Loose fit with an American duckhead

I tried inserting my power brick in the outlet, and despite my finesse, couldn’t get it to stick. I then tried plugging in my European adapter and viola: it fit like a glove.

Snug fit with a European duckhead

Since that flight, I’ve always traveled with an international power adapter, regardless of my final destination. I can’t begin to count how many times it’s saved me from a loose power outlet. (Plus, there was one trip that I thought was going to be a quick jaunt to the West Coast, only to find out minutes before boarding the outbound flight that I’d be heading to China instead.)

Since then, I’ve brought either a European or U.K. converter on every trip. Nearly every domestic plane accepts these adapters.

Now, I no longer need to worry about wobbly outlets. Even if Europe is closed for the time being, dust off your power adapter and put it in your bag. Your devices will thank me later.

All photos by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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