Sleeping in Airport? Possible, Doable, Can be Relaxing


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Travel. As fun as it is, it can also be tiring.

Sleeping in airport. As tough as it sounds, it can also be relaxing. If you prepare for it. Sometimes you don’t have a choice, and staying overnight at airport is your best option. Other times you may choose to spend the night at the airport to save money. Here, we want to talk about both sides.

  1. What to do if you have to spend a night at the airport?
  2. How to have a comfortable layover at the airport?
Capsule hotel at an airport in Moscow
Airport sleeping pods / Capsule hotel at an airport in Moscow

1. Sleeping in Airport. Why? Why People Do It?

The most common reason is — to save money. 

It’s a very popular choice with self-transfer flights. In Europe, a lot of people choose to spend a night at the airport between flights.

There are also situations, when spending the night at the airport is the only available option. Your flight has been cancelled last-minute or delayed. You can’t leave the airport because you are a transit passenger, or you need a visa for that. Or you don’t want to do it, your layover isn’t that long. Or, you have a self-transfer flight, and the city is too far away to be bothered to go to.

No matter the reason, sleeping at an airport mustn’t be tough. While there are less comfortable ways of spending the night at the airport (sleeping on the ground / bench is one of them), you might be surprised to find out that there are pretty decent and even comfortable solutions as well.

Long, overnight layovers are very especially common with self-transfer flights. If your flight departs only on the next day, you may decide to spend the night at the airport. Many travelers do it.

1.1 Right to Care (Delays, Cancellations, Denied Boarding)

Flight delayed? Cancelled? Overbooked?

Or maybe you missed connecting flight due to delay.

In Europe, in all these situations you may have a right to care from airline. You may have a right to assistance from your airline. If a flight departs from Europe, the same rules apply also to non-European airlines like Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways. You can learn more about it here.

If you have to wait at the airport you have a right to:

  • Free food and drinks in a reasonable relation to the waiting time;
  • Free hotel accommodation if a stay of one or more nights is necessary;
  • Free airport transfer to hotel and back;
  • Plus, two telephone calls, telex or fax messages, or e-mails. So you can get in touch with your family, relatives, or to inform someone about this delay and resulting changes in your travel plans.

Regulations 261/2004 / UK261 gives you these rights.

Sometimes you have a right to compensation.

Flight delay? Cancellation? Denied boarding? File a claim online.

GET FLIGHT COMPENSATION

File a Claim Online

2. Sleeping in Airports: Things to Know 

First things first — are you allowed to sleep at an airport?

Can you sleep in an airport between or before flight?

Yes! And many people do it.

However, there are a few things you should know.

  • You don’t have to sleep on the chair. Or on the floor. There are other options, too. You could book an airport hotel which is located right at the departures or arrivals terminal. You could spend a night at a capsule or pod hotel. You could have a nap at an airport lounge. In short – there are other options. More on that below.
  • Not everywhere there are airport hotels. However, usually it’s possible to find a hotel nearby. You aren’t the first person looking for one. And where there is demand, there will always be supply. Go to Booking.com, find the area and open the map view. Double-check the address!
  • Airport closing times. Not all airports stay open during the night. If there are no flights during the night, the airport will close until check-in time for the first flight of the day.
  • The attitude towards airport sleepers vary. If you have never done it, or seen people doing it, you may find it strange. But the thing is — it’s happening. A lot. In some airports more than in other. Speaking of the attitude from the airport staff, you can experience anything from kind and considerate attitude to rude staff waking and chasing people away.
  • Airports are also different. Your Istanbul airport sleeping experience won’t be the same as Amsterdam airport sleeping experience.
  • It’s all about the right place! Chairs at the airside area often are more plentiful and comfortable than those of the landslide area. Also, larger airport terminals usually are better for sleeping than the smaller, less important ones.
Capsule at a Capsule Hotel in Malaysia
Capsule at a Capsule Hotel in Malaysia

3. Sleeping in Airport: What Are Your Options?

Most people choose to sleep in chairs or on the floor.

But keep in mind that sleeping on chairs or on the floor is not the only option. There are more sophisticated ways how you can spend the night at an airport.

3.1 Chairs and Floor

Chairs and floors are what you can find at any airport, isn’t that right? Some airports are more advanced than others and offer better “sleeping arrangements” such as designated sleep areas, reclining chairs and even sofas. The main reason why people choose this option, is because it’s for free.

In Singapore, it can also be pretty relaxing. Singapore Changi airport is one of the most advanced and overall best airports in this matter.

How to be better at sleeping in airports?

How to sleep in an airport and feel okay the next day?

Check out Sleeping In Airports.

It’s a comprehensive guide about, yes, you are right, sleeping in airports. On this website, you can read airport reviews, get information about airport rest areas (if there’s any), facilities, services and dining options. Also, the website provides information about airport hotels, sleep cabins and pods, as well as Wi-Fi, sockets, luggage storage, showers, and, of course, the most comfortable chairs.

3.2 Airport Sleeping Pods / Airport Capsule Hotels

Pods or capsules are tiny accommodation.

They are basically a bed surrounded by walls, and feature a slide door/entrance. Some capsule hotels are more sophisticated than others. While the simplest pods will feature only a bed, shelf, light and electrical outlets, the more modern ones will have also a TV, air-conditioning, mirror, clothes hangers, etc. 

Have you tried sleeping pods in airports or elsewhere?

3.3 Airport Hotels

Airport hotels are different.

Same like with airport sleeping pods, the offer varies from airport to airport. You may find anything from tiny but cosy capsule-like rooms (like the ones at Yotel) to proper 5-star hotel rooms.

3.4 Options for a Nap

Not always you have an 8 or 12-hour layover. If you want to rest for a few hours in peace and quiet, there are a few options you can take advantage of:

  • Capsule hotels (often available on per hour basis)
  • Airport lounges. You can always ask about the options at information desk at the airport. Some credit and travel debit cards offer discounts for lounge access. Some bank cards give you free access to lounges at airports.
  • Reclining chairs at a departure terminal. You can’t find them in every airport though. And if there are, there are not so many of them anyway.
Indoor waterfall at Singapore Changi Airport
Singapore Changi Airport

4. Airport Sleeping Tips

Here are some of the best tips for sleeping in airports.

If you are going to take the most common option – chairs and floor, then this is for you. These are things that you should know about airports.

  • Closing times. Find out if the airport/terminal closes for the night. If it closes for the night, you can’t stay there during the night. Some airports close only certain terminals, while others close all terminals. Find out what terminals are open during the night.
  • Chair availability. Chairs at the airside area often are more plentiful and comfortable than those of the landslide area. If you have already checked in online and you don’t have any checked baggage, go through airport security ahead of time to sleep. But be aware that it’s not possible in every airport. At some airports, you are allowed to enter the airside area only 2 hours or so prior departure.
  • “Good” and “bad” terminals. Larger airport terminals might be better for sleeping than the smaller, less important ones. If there’s an easy way to travel between the terminals, take an advantage of that. You have plenty of time anyway. You don’t need to rush anywhere. So you might as well go to a “better” terminal to sleep.
  • Seek out a designated sleep space. It’s safer and more comfortable. Especially if you are having a layover in any of the world’s best airports, like Singapore or Doha, where they are more likely to have an area like this.
  • Hold on to your luggage while sleeping. Do not let go of your luggage when sleeping. Use your bag as a pillow. Hug your bag or put it beneath your feet. Place a strap across your torso or leg. Be safe!
  • Come prepared for a night! Bring an eye mask and light blanket. It might get cool at the airport due to air-conditioning. With a blanket, you’ll feel more comfortable. Sleep mask will provide you with a better sleeping environment.
  • Don’t forget about earbuds or earplugs. So you don’t hear the noise around you. You may know it already, airports are noisy environments. In some airports there are flights arriving and departing 24/7. It can be hard to sleep at an airport due to all that noise. Use earplugs in order to get better sleep. Just make sure you don’t oversleep and miss your flight!
  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Comfortable clothing equals better sleep and happier you on the next day.
  • Don’t oversleep! Set up an alarm on your phone. So that you don’t miss your next flight. And even better, when possible, sleep somewhere near your gate.

Have you even spent a night at the airport? What was your airport overnight stay experience? Was it because of a long layover? Self-transfer flight with an overnight layover? Or because of flight delay or cancellation?


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