How to Sleeping In Airports – 1st Account
Do you feel like your life is “Up in the Air” like that movie with George Clooney? If so, the last thing you probably want to do is sleep in an airport. Yet, if you travel a lot, it will probably happen to you.
I’ve slept in an airport – hotel. Once, I was on my way to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, and we had to pass through San Juan, Puerto Rico. There was no direct flight from Boston. When I arrived, the airline announced there would be no connection to St. Thomas that night, but before anyone could squawk, they also gave us directions to the counter where we would get our voucher for dinner, breakfast and a room in a hotel right in the airport that night. I had the smallest room I think it’s possible to design with a double bed. I walked in and, slowly turning my head, looked to my left for a door or opening to an adjoining space. Nothing. I looked to my right – a separate bathroom. That was good. Once I adjusted to the size, I had a very restful night. No one had to complain. The airline just put us up. Next morning, the plane left on time. Now, you want to know what to do when the airline is not so polite, when they think you’re going to slump in that plastic chair and watch CNN all night, or if it’s too crowded, watch the arrivals and departures screen. No sir! We are going to find out your rights!
First, let’s assume the airline has oversold the flight, and you are bumped. Whether you will get enough cash to buy another flight depends on the length of your delay. If they can book you on another flight to arrive within an hour of your original arrival time, you get nada. If it’s a two to four hour delay, you can get up to $650 or 200% (whichever is less) of the cost of a one-way ticket, in cash. More than four hours, up to $1,300 or 400% (whichever is less) of the one-way fare. Frommer’s , which nicely summarized this for us, says take the money and run. No vouchers!
If your flight was canceled (like mine was in San Juan), you have no rights unless they are in the contract with your airline. Did you read that fine print? I didn’t. Either they were very nice to me, or they were complying with our contract. I like to think they were developing good customer relations.
Unfortunately, I can’t remember the airline. It’s also possible that a government regulation requiring this was in effect at the time, but no more. On this point, the U.S. is now hands off! I think it’s fascinating that it takes a Philadelphia lawyer to read the DOT “Consumer Protection” website. You’re on your own (not entirely) – in the airport, maybe overnight. This assumes, by the way, that the airport is open overnight.
I once was delivered to Logan Airport in Boston and discovered, with two young children in tow, that the international airport in that grand old metropolis closed at midnight! Fortunately, we caught the last bus home. Another time, when I arrived alone, the last bus had already gone! What’s a girl to do? I hopped on a car rental bus, rented a car and drove home. Remember, there’s more than one way to get from here to there (except in Maine where the old folks say to tourists, “You can’t get there from here.”) I checked Logan’s website and couldn’t readily find hours of operation, but other travelers have apparently found places to spend the wee hours in some of the terminals in the past. The suggestions of those folks, like taking a cab to a large, well-known hotel and hanging out in the lounge, finding a table at an all-night airport restaurant, would all likely work in other large cities, too. My friend just told me a Mexico City airport hotel had a lounge and a shower available for $20 or $30, but it was so brightly lit and sparsely furnished, she preferred the lobby. She had had a meal in their restaurant and stayed there until about 10 p.m. Then, she hung out in the lobby for about an hour. They tried to persuade her to pay for and use the lounge, but she argued with them about having just paid for dinner. They let her stay, but at 3 a.m. they finally kicked her out.
Of course, if you’re stuck in the terminal, you have the option of going to any open restaurant, but you can’t sleep there. What if you’re really tired? Let’s say not so exhausted you could sleep standing up, but too tired to maintain at a table after you finish your food.
A number of airlines have special lounges for special travelers (maybe that’s you!) Air Canada has Maple Leaf Lounges. These are accessed by membership or an upper class of travel. If you’re a member, for a small fee, you can also bring your friends. They don’t have beds, but they have quiet zones. Lufthansa is focusing on the comfort of the seats in their lounges and have refurbished some to provide leather armchairs.
When you are really tired, the design of the chair matters. If you can’t access a lounge, take a good look at chairs in the terminal. Do they have armrests? How about cushioned seats? If not, consider taking a look at another terminal. Be careful about this choice because sometimes when you leave a terminal, you have to go out and back through security. If not, it might be worth a short trip on the shuttle. Then, again, you might decide that no one’s going to prevent you from oversleeping. The most important thing is not to miss the next flight. If that’s how you feel, too, then sling on your backpack and trudge on over to your next gate. Having read this article, you will have already packed what you need.
If you end up sleeping (or nodding off with a wish to be undisturbed) in an airport, you want to have clothes to keep you warm and a pillow. I tend to wear several layers of clothes when I fly. I also have the best LL Bean fleece jacket that doubles as a soft, cushy pillow. If you don’t have something like this, you can almost always buy little neck pillows in the airport news shops. Then, hopefully, you’ve brought your headphones or earplugs. Listening to music helps to de-stress. I have owned a set of Bose for years. Yes. They were an investment, but, even if I’m not listening to music, they subdue that annoying engine noise of planes. When I get the noise levels down, I’m a much more relaxed traveler. Get yourself some healthy snacks and water. Find a seat where you can see other people and they can see you. Don’t be sitting alone, away from everyone else at a deserted gate. If the lights are too bright or you’re concerned about being hassled for sleeping, put on your sunglasses. Position your bags so that anyone rustling in them is likely to wake you up. Consider zipping your laptop inside one of your clothing layers. Set your cell phone alarm. Then, bundled up so you’re warm when the terminal gets cooler at midnight, listening to your favorite tunes, audio book or comic, and resting your neck, stretch your legs out and have a little snooze. “Nite-nite.”
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