Just about the only thing worse than being stuck in an airport is being stuck in one without free WiFi. MediaShift is doing its part to alleviate the problem with today’s launch of a Premier Airport Network that connects 20 major US airports with advertisers.

This new endeavor is a natural extension for MediaShift, which specializes in monetizing private WiFi networks from travel-related companies like airports and hotels.

The network will place advertising both at sign-in and throughout a session to help airports recoup the cost of their equipment and earn revenue from the setup without having to directly charge consumers.

“Partnering with our nation’s major airports and those providing them WiFi access is the next logical step in expanding our footprint of private WiFi networks,” MediaShift CEO David Grant said in a statement. “Air travelers are an attractive demographic for advertisers and a perfect fit for us as we continue to expand our global on-the-go ad network.”

At launch, the airport network covers four of the top 10 US airports and boasts a footprint of more than 23 million unique users and 200 million annual “enplanements”. MediaShift’s platform tracks click-throughs and conversions and enables targeted advertising by tracking behavioral data from users.

In an ideal world, free airport WiFi access would be a given without having to resort to advertising, but until that day comes, I’ll gladly watch a few ads if that’s what it takes to get online.

Image credit: iStockphoto