Sleeping in Airports
September 22, 2003 3:19 PM   Subscribe

The Budget Traveller's Guide To Sleeping In Airports. Overnight flight delayed far from home? Can't afford a room at one of those boring, noisy airport hotels? Stuck in Japan on a cancelled layover and too chicken to rent out a capsule? Well, why not try sleeping in the airport? The B.T.G.T.S.I.A. has tips for "pro" airport sleepers, best and worst airports to sleep in, and as an added bonus, stories of strange non-airport sleeping places.
posted by brownpau (20 comments total)
Having napped (but not overnighted) in many airports, I can appreciate how bad some of them are (try any airport in Indonesia to start with). The story of someone going to sleep in Auckland's airport and waking to find he/she had been covered with an Air New Zealand blanket in the night was one of those things that proves we are still human after all.
posted by dg at 3:44 PM on September 22, 2003

Singapore Changi may be the best airport for sleeping, but don't let the security catch you studying.
posted by ikalliom at 4:09 PM on September 22, 2003

As far as "strange non-airport places," I know that many of the bookstores here, and even some that I've visited in Chicago, are limiting their comfy chairs, and I've witnessed more than one (non-snoring) snoozer jostled awake by a perky bookseller, cheerfully informing him that they seemed to have fallen asleep.
posted by crunchland at 4:10 PM on September 22, 2003

the site's dead on about singapore airport, it is lurvely.
posted by jcruelty at 4:22 PM on September 22, 2003

Does anyone know what Singapore airport means about no studying? Are they talking about students or businessmen sitting down in the lounge and doing work, or what? Other than that, it is a great airport - free wifi, nice chairs, supermarket, gym...
posted by adrianhon at 4:25 PM on September 22, 2003

I loved the Singapore airport too. Though I paid to stay in one of the in-terminal hotel rooms (and very nearly tripped off some super secret tracking system when my traveling companion and I got locked out by accident and had to talk ourselves in the back way).

I wonder how long this site's been around? They could at least date the entries. The reviews of Honolulu International Airport seem about right, except that they made quite a show of flushing out the homeless some years ago. And the "Queen" referenced is now spotted regularly in downtown Honolulu.
posted by pzarquon at 4:39 PM on September 22, 2003

Schiphol, in Amsterdam, is one of the best I've spent an extended time in. Wonderful comfy chairs, long recliners, that you just can't help falling asleep in.
posted by carfilhiot at 4:41 PM on September 22, 2003

If anyone ever finds themselves in the Juneau AK airport, the best place to sleep is behind the polar bear. They have a stuffed polar bear in a huge glass case that sits in a corner. Because of the size of the display and the way it faces out of its corner, there is a good 5' by 7' spot behind it. I've slept there at least a half dozen times (in the summer I sleep on a bench at the ferry terminal.)
posted by elwoodwiles at 4:53 PM on September 22, 2003

You could probably catch 40 winks if necessary at the JetBlue gate in JFK--they have a circular bench (around the stairwell to the lower floor, IIRC) which, despite being...firm...would allow you to stretch out. Er, don't tell them I sent you. OTOH, the food in the nearby food court leaves something to be desired.
posted by thomas j wise at 5:49 PM on September 22, 2003

The airport in Papeete is pretty good for sleeping; nice comfy cushions, on chairs without armrests so you can lay across a couple of 'em. Sweet.

It's not a very big place though, so there's no such thing as a quiet corner.
posted by aramaic at 6:14 PM on September 22, 2003

Fumicino, Rome, the guards come around about midnight, check to see if you have a ticket for next morning, and don't bother you after that.

I stretched out in my sleeping bag, quite a good night's sleep.
posted by signal at 6:40 PM on September 22, 2003

I did Dublin last summer. There must have been more than a hundred people in a large open space on the second floor by a food court; it must be pretty common to do with youth travellers. The only downside is that they woke everyone up around 4 am for floor cleaning with the cleaning Zamboni, but it was alright, as I had to go downstairs to check my bags shortly thereafter anyway.
posted by The Michael The at 6:46 PM on September 22, 2003

Does anyone know what Singapore airport means about no studying?

Near the middle and end of an academic year, Changi Airport is a popular location for local students studying for their exams.

There's a designated area now for students who go to the airport just to study.
posted by Tripps at 8:10 PM on September 22, 2003

I've spent a pleasant night in Pittsburgh, and I have to say that Logan ranks high on my list due to all the great people who work there. However, my most memorable airport-hotel experience was the two days a friend and I spent at Heathrow - December 17-18, 1988 - trying to get standby seats to go home for the holidays.

However, since I no longer fly, I have to say that my favorite place to spend the night is Union Station in Washington DC. Union Station is a travel wonderland - an immense, majestic building housing over a hundred shops, lots to do nearby if you get bored and want to walk around town, and the website almost always offers some kind of percent-off coupon for the shops (currently its 15% off).
posted by anastasiav at 8:58 PM on September 22, 2003

Ah, this very entertaining website (many thanks, brownpau!) brought back teenage memories of sleeping rough in train stations around Europe: in Montparnasse with my Eurail pass strapped around my neck, in the hope the cops wouldn't wake me up at three in the morning to ask me for it. It never worked. Some fellow bums tried to steal it, though.

Nowadays, of course, I have difficulty sleeping in my own luxurious bed, luxury cotton sheets, with complete light and sound insulation...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:15 PM on September 22, 2003

I'm reminded of a trip my mom and I made to Niagara Falls, Ontario, one July weekend.

It's one of her favorite places to visit, and I take her there as often as I can. Previously our trips were always in the off-season, but this one year I decided to surprise her with a week-end trip in July for her birthday. We took the VIA train there (a staple portion of the trip for her) and arrived early evening. Duh! Silly me had completely forgotten that this was the height of the tourist season, and I had neglected to make any hotel reservations. It was about 90 degrees with equal humidity, as my elderly mum and I walked from the train station to one motel after another, pitifully looking for lodging. We ended up (at mom's suggestion, no less!) spending the night in a park, sleeping on a couple of benches, using a nearby 24-hour donut shop's restroom when necessary.

We did get a room early the next morning, but I'll never forget the spunkiness of my gray-haired mother, who would never consider sleeping on a park bench in her own neighborhood.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:07 PM on September 22, 2003

I slept in the armless chairs one morning for about three hours in Toronto. It wasn't terribly comfortable, but that's often the case when you use a jacket for a pillow and lay in random places.

I've never had to sleep in the Vancouver airport, being that it's my hometown (relatively speaking) airport, but I do have to say it's by far the nicest of the (relatively few) I've been in, at least for sheer aesthetics.
posted by The God Complex at 10:17 PM on September 22, 2003

Having slept in a number of airports (some as recently as this year) I can say that some of your success will also depend on security. I have seen TSA agents walk through the airport, waking people up if it's around 1am or so and telling them they have to move out to a non-secure area. Never got the reason why.

Denver International Airport (not the old Stapleton) and Hartsfield in Atlanta are both good places to get stuck.

However, I've gotten stubborn enough that if I've got a six-hour delay I'll just change the flight to another one the next day or something, get a hotel, and fares be damned.
posted by TeamBilly at 7:24 AM on September 23, 2003

Singapore Changi may be the best airport for sleeping, but don't let the security catch you studying.

I always thought this was funny, and even wrote a short piece about kids studying at Changi six years ago for The Christian Science Monitor (July 16, 1997, if you’re interested, and near a big library.) It’s online as well in the CSM archives, but I wouldn't pay good money to read it. (Well, I've already read it.)
posted by LeLiLo at 8:18 AM on September 23, 2003

The security policies at JFK make sleeping next to impossible, I can vouch for that. Once I had a flight cancelled and rescheduled for 7 hours later, and although I live in the NYC area it was a 2-hour trip each way (with luggage in tow) to get back home so I didn't bother. We tried to sleep on some long benches in the food court, but security kicked us out when the court closed overnight. They herded us to the arrivals area and then came the bonus prize: they wouldn't let anyone sleep on the wide-open expanses of floor there because it LOOKS BAD. Naturally, the sleek HermanMiller seating is fully armed and impossible to lie on. Longest night of my freaking life.
posted by Pyth at 4:51 PM on September 23, 2003

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