An outside guide to surviving a night at the airport
Flight cancellations are a traveler’s worst nightmare. And the perfect storm is brewing this holiday season with bad weather, a shortage of airline staff and a surge of travelers after the lockdown (airline bookings for Thanksgiving are up 78% from 2020). Unfortunately, in the United States, airlines are not required to compensate passengers when flights are delayed or canceled. Their only obligations are to board you on the next available flight in their fleet (not that of a competitor) or to refund your ticket. While some companies may offer a hotel or meal voucher (and you should always ask), and travel insurance or a premium travel credit card may offer some protection, you are usually on your own until your day. next flight.
We believe you need to be prepared for any survival situation, and that includes being stranded at the airport. We’ve put together our top tips for spending a night in a terminal and the gear to make it bearable.
Find your campsite
Some airports have dedicated rest areas with comfortable chairs, nap areas, and even showers for passengers who wait long at the airport. However, that can’t be said of most airports, and a few make it really tough – in 2018 London Stansted Airport went so far as to implement an outright ban on sleeping in its terminal. Fortunately, says Molly Fergus, vice president and general manager of TrippSavvy, “most airports will try to accommodate or at least tolerate passengers stranded overnight.”
If you’ve been through security before, you can explore other terminals to determine where the quieter areas are. If you’re in the mood, try to get access to the best clubs or airport lounges. “Many living rooms have comfortable sofas, showers and relaxation rooms,” says Fergus. “Premium credit cards often provide lounge access, while other lounges allow you to purchase day passes.” A peaceful place to rest can also include meditation, yoga, and exercise rooms, as well as business centers. “Denver International Airport, for example, has a business center open to all travelers,” says Fergus. “It has several cabins, benches, and lounge chairs that could work for sleeping.” Another neglected area is the airport churches. “Many airports have chapels which can be quiet and relaxing,” says Fergus. “Just check the opening hours before you settle in for the night. “
“Use common sense when planning a comfortable place to sleep at the airport,” says Fergus. Avoid stairwells, doorways, and areas with heavy foot traffic. You might even consider asking an airport employee or security guard for a quiet, remote location that won’t be disruptive or dangerous. Be respectful, and don’t take up too much space when displaying your luggage. If you choose to sleep near a store, check its hours of operation so you don’t block potential customers from entering the business. “Early morning foot traffic will interrupt your sleep and could increase the likelihood of something being stolen while you sleep,” says Fergus.
Be prepared with the right equipment
There are a number of things you should always have on hand in case you get stuck sleeping at the airport. Here are our essentials:
Coalatree Evolution Hoodie ($ 77)
The Evolution hoodie is so soft you wouldn’t even know the fabric is made from recycled coffee grounds and plastic bottles. Hidden zippered pockets can easily store your plane ticket, ID card and phone. Best of all, the Evolution stows away in the zippered kangaroo pocket for a practical travel pillow.
Rumpl NanoLoft Travel Blanket ($ 99)
This lightweight, fluffy blanket weighs just 11 ounces and its polyester shell and insulation are made from recycled materials. It is stain and water resistant and rolls up to the size of a water bottle.
Poseidon Pro portable charger ($ 120)
In a crowded airport, it can be difficult to find an open outlet to charge your phone. The Poseidon Pro solves this problem and is waterproof, drop proof and crush proof to boot. It charges quickly and can keep your device charged for up to 36 hours.
Goodwipes Really Large Body Wipes ($ 10)
These 9.5 x 11.5 inch body wipes are a convenient way to cool off after a night spent camping at the airport or in the woods. They are hypoallergenic and infused with natural tea tree oil, peppermint, aloe and ginseng. Each individually wrapped wipe is biodegradable.
Astrea One Premium filter water bottle ($ 25)
This Astrea product filters lead, chlorine and other contaminants and toxins from airport tap water. It is the only water bottle with the highest NSF certification, the assurance that it meets strict standards for the protection of public health.
Lewis N. Clark Triple Security Lock ($ 13)
Secure your luggage before sleeping with the Lewis N. Clark TSA-compatible triple security lock. This keyless device locks the zipper pulls and luggage handles and can attach your bag to a stationary object.