Charge your iPhone on a Qantas flight without your USB cable

By David Flynn, April 3 2017
Charge your iPhone on a Qantas flight without your USB cable

Ever boarded a Qantas flight with your iPhone battery perilously low after a long day on the go, but didn't pack the necessary USB cable to recharge your iPhone during the flight?

Of course you have. It's Murphy's Law: The Business Traveller Edition.

You've probably also jumped onto a flight and realised you forgot to charge your iPhone overnight or at the office, leaving you up the same low-battery creek without a paddle.

If it happens that you're on a domestic Qantas Airbus A330 flight – typically on the east-west routes, and also sometimes between Sydney and Melbourne – and you spy an iPad Mini tucked into the seat pocket, you're in luck.

Roughly half of Qantas' fleet of domestic A330-200 jets are older aircraft lacking the usual video screen in the back of each economy seat.

Instead, Qantas fitted out those jets with an iPad Mini which can tap into a library of inflight entertainment content over WiFi, in what the airline terms Q Streaming.

But it's not the inflight movies, TV shows, music or even the iPad that matter to you and your low-battery iPhone.

What matters is that hanging off each iPad Mini is a USB cable so that the tablets can be easily recharged between flights.

And it's a simple job to borrow that cable, plug it into your iPhone and the seat's USB power socket to top up the battery en route.

The iPad end of the USB charge cable – which sports Apple's standard Lightning connector – is nestled into a small bracket extending from a plastic shell which holds the iPad Mini and its cover.

To get at that cable, start by gentling the iPad Mini out of the plastic rear shell. Remember, easy does it – you don't want to break anything!

Slide the iPad up from the plastic case and the Lightning connector will come along for the ride, as it's not fixed into that bracket.

Now you can lift the iPad Mini out of its shell to provide easier access to the cable and Lightning connector.

Remove the cable from the iPad Mini, plug the USB end into the USB socket between your seats and connect the Lightning end into your iPhone.

Now, let the charging begin!

On an average 90 minute flight between Sydney and Melbourne there's enough time to boost an almost-flat iPhone 6 Plus battery back to around 40%, while smaller-screen iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 models should be half-full by the time your flight lands.

But don't forget: when you're done, put everything back together exactly the way you found it!


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1244

"To get at that cable, start by gent the iPad Mini out of the plastic rear shell."


24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2561

Not 'gent' but 'gentling" – doing something gently, in this case 'gently removing'.

20 Feb 2012

Total posts 66

Don't forget to do the right thing and put it back into the iPad mini for the next passenger to use :)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Oct 2016

Total posts 66

I ended up on an evening flight in a seat that had the entire ipad go missing at some point earlier in the day. I'm assuming it must have been an innocent mistake where someone forgot to return the ipad after borrowing the cable to charge their phone.

I spotted the empty shell/casing hanging out of my seat pocket about 30 seconds before the cabin crew member doing the safety demonstration. I passed the service trolley later and I heard her talking to another attendant about the missing ipad and what seat, it made for a very awkward second half of my flight.

23 Feb 2015

Total posts 263

Have done this on more than one occasion - including putting everything back together!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Aug 2014

Total posts 504

I thought there would be some alarm if you tried to fiddle with the connection as it says Security xyz on the cover

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