Whine Wednesdays: The Slow Death of Payphones at Airports!


Today’s Whine Wednesday could also be called ‘Blast from the Past’ but where in the world are all the Payphones disappearing to??

Payphone DeathAre people really abandoning the good old boxes since everyone has a cellphone now?

They used to be be everywhere in vast numbers. At the airport departure terminal, baggage claim, check-in area and who knows where else.

In recent years however the number of pay phones available has dropped sharply and my good guess is because people rarely use them anymore due to the widespread of cheap cellphone technology. Yet, the operators still have to maintain them which includes sending service staff etc.

All nice and well but what if your cellphone breaks down, runs of of battery or simply you don’t have a local SIM Card?

Well as luck would have it I encountered such a situation at LAX today arriving at the new and otherwise very nice Tom Bradley Terminal (TBIT) from Shanghai. The USB port on board my AA plane that was supposed to charge my phone in flight must have been dead, anyway my cellphone wouldn’t say boo upon arrival (1:30h early) and I couldn’t find my driver in the arrivals hall.

It took me quite a while to finally locate an old fashioned payphone to place a free 1-888 call to the car company and coordinate a meeting point.

On a side note: Emirates and Etihad are creating a MESS with their Chauffeur service at LAX. There must be a better way to handle this. I wasn’t flying with them but there were like 40 drivers for these two airlines alone today.

Nevertheless the only payphone available was located at the far end of the arrivals hall. Really?


Sometimes we still have to rely on old fashioned but proven technology if we encounter a problem such as the one today. At least Airports should provide ample outlets to make phone calls, it’s not a matter of economics but also of infrastructure.