web Musings of The Global Traveller

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Sleeping in airports

For the first time in years I recently slept at 2 different airports. I'd forgotten what it was like and I ended up paying the penalty. I was lulled into a false sense by my dodgy memories and also a quick review of the sleeping in airports website.

The first one was at Auckland when a schedule change meant I had 3 hours in the wee hours of the morning between international flights. Factoring in immigration both ways, customs, and a cab ride to & from the nearest hotel I reckoned I'd get 30 minutes sleep if I was lucky. I didn't need a hotel to access a shower - having the option of the free airside international terminal shower (bring your own towel and soap) or the shower in the 2 lounges I had access to after a couple of hours of waiting for them to open. So I cleared security (requiring a phone call to summons an officer) and settled in one of the comfy chairs on the upper level. While good for lying down it was soon apparent that some fellow transitting passengers were going to talk noisily all night (and some also playing football) thus making it difficult to sleep. I found some of the gate lounge areas were overlooked by passengers wandering aimlessly and thus a quiet respite. I managed an hour or so of sleep. The shower in the lounge, when it opened at 4am, was a godsend.

The second one was at Hamilton. This time I had 4 1/2 hours between international flights. Factoring in immigration, customs and check in time I figured I'd get a maximum of 2 1/2 hours sleep at the nearby airport hotel. I found a comfy chair on the upper level. Even though the terminal was locked up once the last passenger on my flight had cleared customs, I was allowed to remain inside. However, I was kept awake by the heavy rain drumming on the roof, and then an hour later by the cafe staff preparing to open up for the day (lights on, and an automated announcement every 10 minutes or so about security and keep your bags with you at all times). I gave up trying to sleep having had less than 30 minutes sleep. The airport has no showers, so I had to wait until my next destination to shower. In hindsight I would have been better off with the airport hotel (despite the relatively high cost).

The other option for such short overnight transits is to not try to sleep at all. I've done that before, but that is easier said than done when the body clock wants sleep and there are no stimulants coffee or cola on hand. What do you do in these situations?

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