Frank Berkers was ready to connect to the world again.
After a month-long trip to Europe with little Internet access, he was looking forward to checking his email once he landed at Vancouver International Airport in early October. Instead, he was greeted by patchy wireless when he fired up his laptop.
“I was like, come on, give me a break. You’re in a Western country again, so you think you’d get connected right away,” Berkers said while waiting for his connecting flight to Kelowna. “It’s the first time I’ve had problems at this airport.”
After walking around for half an hour, he finally found a spot where his laptop would connect to the Internet.
Berkers’ story isn’t unique. For the last couple months, travellers and staff of YVR — Canada’s first major airport to offer free Wi-Fi — have experienced problems accessing the service.
The airport has officially acknowledged the problem and is working to fix it.
“Vancouver Airport Authority is aware that there are certain areas within the terminal that are more challenging to access Wi-Fi, and we are currently looking into options to provide more consistent access,” said Jenny Duncan, a Vancouver Airport Authority spokeswoman.
Complaints on Twitter
Some travellers took to Twitter in the last couple of months to express their frustrations about the Wi-Fi’s speed and accessibility, often noting their locations within the airport. YVR has been quick to respond through its own Twitter account.
@mitchellbe WiFi speed can depend on # of ppl using it. To help us improve, can you tell me where in YVR you’re located?
— Vancouver Airport (@yvrairport) September 23, 2013
@wilhelmus Sorry for the slow wifi. Speed depends on location and # of ppl using it. Help us improve by telling us where you're located.
— Vancouver Airport (@yvrairport) September 4, 2013
YVR has not specified when the Wi-Fi issues started, and was unable to provide an official number of reported problems in time for publication.
A search for recent tweets mentioning YVR airport and Wi-Fi found that traveller complaints have grown from four in August. There were 17 in September and there have been six so far in October.
Among those fielding complaints is Thomas Shoji, who works at information desks in the domestic terminal, before security.
“In my experience, the area is particularly bad,” said Shoji. “I could sit here all day and not have any connection. It depends where you are in the airport.”
A case-by-case problem
An YVR information-technology department worker said he was not aware of any major ongoing Wi-Fi issues, and that the department deals with problems on a case-by-case basis.If someone walks down the hall, they’ll be able to pick up a new signal
“Usually the issue can be fixed by clearing or changing some settings,” said Dylan Lenaghan, an IT help-desk analyst at the airport. “Ninety-nine per cent of the time when there’s a connection problem, if someone walks down the hall, they’ll be able to pick up a new signal.”