The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee meant that most of the United Kingdom could take a few extra days off, so my wife and I went to London, then Scotland for a short break.
I always pack plugs with different USB inputs, alongside extra wires and a battery pack, for those moments when you desperately need to charge your iPhone or Android device. However, I’ve been trying to move to USB-C lately, as my MacBook Pro and Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones use these primarily, while you can fast-charge an iPhone X and up with a lightning to USB-C cable.
Almost as soon as we stepped onto the first train, is where I began to see some issues – followed by the hotels we stayed in and the Caledonian Sleeper (opens in new tab) train, all of them had USB-A ports instead of USB-C, and the train had no easy-to-reach plugs for where we were sat.
After coming back, I can’t help but wonder whether it’s time for hotels and the hospitality industry overall, to look into USB-C ports or at least hand out adapters to their guests to help accelerate the inevitable change that all devices are going to have in a few short years.
There’s a good chance you’ve seen electrical sockets that have USB-A ports alongside them – these are the bigger-sized USB ports that you’ve seen for years, while USB-C looks like an iPhone lightning port, just thicker.
However, we’re approaching a point where your phone accepts USB-C only, and, if the European Union courts get its way, a future iPhone will have no choice but to adopt it as well.
This can mean that all of those sockets you’ve installed in your home could be pointless, or you’ll be spending big on USB-A to USB-C adapters.
We’ve been wanting to try out the Caledonian Sleeper (opens in new tab) for years. For those unaware, it’s a train that goes to its destination during the night, allowing you to have a good night’s sleep, and wake up just as you arrive in London or a variety of places in Scotland.
I mainly wanted to do it as it was a way of doing work and playing games on the Mac as we went through the Scottish highlands, and it didn’t disappoint as I got up at 4 AM just to see the fantastic landscapes in the lounge carriage.
However, I was constantly running into the issue of charging my devices – from my MacBook to the AirPods Pro case. While I had a 100W plug, that was being used by my wife, and the battery pack was out of charge. So I had to look for a USB socket.
Under this table I was sitting at, I spotted a socket and a USB-A port – useless for my Mac. This was also the time when my iPhone was hitting the 10% mark, as I was hotspotting the MacBook on 4G, and it was working overtime to download a TV show I had forgotten to download before we left.
After a half-hour, my iPhone fell asleep, and I was playing a quick game of GTA Vice City on the Mac. While I was happy by this, I felt annoyed that I was restricted by the ports around me – there was no last resort, the resorts had been closed off from me.
On one hand, it shows how fast technology is advancing. We all need to charge our devices, but there comes a point where these ports become out of date, and are unable to keep up with the mammoth capacities and charging speeds that your iPhone, tablet and gaming console require.
On the other hand however, our trip showed how industries such as hospitality can only reap the benefits of their investments in USB-A to please the customer for so long. Eventually, someone who fleetingly uses a smartphone now and again, will notice that their wire doesn’t fit a USB-A port in a hotel, and that’s when it’s going to cause issues.
So do trains and hotels replace these ports with USB-C until the next port arrives to replace it? Of course not, it would be a huge spend and take months to do this to hotel rooms and train carriages over and over. But something should be done to make sure that others in a similar situation to mine, don’t feel left out or frustrated by the lack of available ports for their USB-C-only devices.