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Sleeping in Airports

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Our cozy arrangement would have been perfect for a long night in the Dublin airport. Unfortunately, the cleaning crew kicked us out of the area after only 15-20 minutes.

Sleeping in airports: Sounds convenient, right? Late flight in, early flight out, why not just catch a few Zzz’s in terminal B, right? Why not skip the hassle of finding a ride to the nearest hotel, paying out the wazoo for a bed and a shower you probably won’t use and just spread out on the floor?

It may be a decent idea, it may not. It all depends on the sleeper, the airport, and whether or not it’s OK if you have 4 pound bags under your eyes when you arrive at your final destination. Because while sleeping in an airport overnight between flights may eliminate the need for transportation and extra lodging, it most definitely isn’t comfortable or enjoyable.

For most people.

Now, if you’re flying with your entire drama club to the Bahamas and you all have so much fun together that you could totally stay up all night playing cards and doing each others’ hair, then you might just breeze through the 8 hours you have to spend in a deserted airport overnight. If you’re a couple who just spent two weeks backpacking through Europe, not so much.

We were the latter. We flew from Edinburgh into Dublin after 10:00 pm and were flying out around 8:00 am the next morning. We didn’t have the energy to try to find a ride into town and a place to stay for the night, so we made the call. Besides, sleeping in the airport would add to the whole experience, right?

Well, it did, but not necessarily in the way we wanted. We started off strong. We found a semi-quiet spot alongside a closed restaurant where we thought we were pretty clever pulling together some comfy armless chairs to use as beds. Unfortunately, 20 minutes later the cleaning crew came through and told us we had to move. Same thing after we cozied up in a booth at McDonald’s. By the time we got kicked out of there (with several other overnighters), all the other sleeping surfaces were occupied and we were stuck on the floor. (None of the terminals were open, by the way, so we couldn’t go through security to find a quiet spot with more seating.)

There were plenty of other folks scattered about, waiting for their early morning flights, so we certainly weren’t alone, but there were also a handful of people that thought it would be pretty great to hoot and holler and generally raise a ruckus about every 30 minutes or so. It wasn’t. So between all the noise (which we tried to drown out with ear plugs), the florescent lights (that we tried to dim with eye masks) and the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements (the tile floor was very cold), we didn’t do much sleeping.

It may have helped if we had come prepared. Many who plan to sleep in airports arrive armed with things they couldn’t do without: inflatable pool loungers to sleep on, travel pillows, compact blankets, etc. And those things would definitely help, but to be honest, Josh wouldn’t have fared well even if we had had those items and as we waited in line for customs in the morning, he pretty much looked like death. I’m surprised they let him back in the country without a full battery of tests to ensure he wasn’t bringing some weird disease back into the U.S.

In any case, some airports are bound to be better than others. If I could get into the terminals at the Dayton International Airport in Ohio, I could totally sleep in there. For those of you who have never flown through Dayton (which would be about 90% of you, I presume), it’s tiny, not at all crowded, and offers plenty of space for stretching out. Of course, no matter where you sleep you have to be prepared for the barrage of early morning travelers who are up and at the airport before the sun even thinks it prudent to be awake.

Needless to say, sleeping in airports isn’t for everybody, but I gotta say, if you’re in a pinch, it’s good to know the option is available.

Are you allowed to sleep in airports?

While you could technically sleep in an airport indefinitely until they kick you out, you’re really should only stay in an airport while you’re waiting for your connecting flight.

Where are the best places to sleep in an airport?

In many airports there’s a large central area that usually contains one or more couches or more comfortables chairs. Keep in mind that you’ll want to stake your claim to one the later it gets because other airport sleepers will be eyeing the same real estate.

Is someone going to ask me to move?

Janitors may wake you up and tell you you can’t sleep somewhere if it’s keeping them from doing there job.

Is my luggage safe while I’m sleeping?

I recommend keeping one arm or leg looped through backpacks or draped over luggage.

How do I make myself more comfortable?

An eye mask and travel pillow and large travel towel/blanket will make you infinitely more comfortable.