Sleeping in airports

Airport somnambulists view their unusual napping technique as much more than merely a solution for really long layovers. This is sleeping as an extreme sport.

Some of the most ardent and frequent posters at ( actually head out to the nearest airport to catch a few Zzzzs even when they don't have a plane to catch (though that option has gotten infinitely more difficult since 9/11 moved the security bar in many airports from the gangway way back to just after the ticket windows—which puts it well before the best sleeping areas within the terminal).

The site works with an inherent sense of humor and an acknowledgement that this option is, indeed, far from a suite at the Ritz.

Anyone who has passed the night in an airport can log in and post their own comments, rating the terminal into one of three categories: "Hell" (little skull and crossbones icon), "Tolerable" (Jolly Rodger plus a happy face), and "Excellent, considering it's an airport" (happy face).

You very quickly get a good sense of where to head at each airport (apparently, Terminal 2 is tops at London Heathrow—which offers a better rest than Stansted, though Gatwick is considered better than either), and most users post useful instructions; here's a snippet from the Heathrow write-ups:

"...Once into terminal 2, go down the big wide corridor to gate 5. A little further on, there are some very comfortable curvy, cushioned benches, about seven feet long and with no arms! Perfect! The airport staff don't care if you sleep there, and it is very quiet...."

There are also section for "Airport Sleeping Tips," a best and worst list, funniest stories, photos of perfect sleeping spots at actual airports, and more. In all, a fun and potentially useful site, though I would add a caveat of my own.

If you should, say, arrive in the airport at 1am after 36 hours of flying with a final flight leaving out of another gate at 6:30am, and that gate is utterly deserted when you find it and—gods be praised—you can actually lie down across the seats as there are no arms to block you, so you stretch out and don your eye mask and earplugs and wrap the strap of your bag around your thigh for safekeeping and fall into a state of unconsciousness just short of coma, and then you suddenly jolt awake at 6am to find the formerly empty terminal bright and bustling and absolutely packed with people while there you are, taking up five seats and probably snoring to the bejeesus, the appropriate facial expression is: sheepish.

(Though I would point out, in honor of the lovely people of Madrid, that not one person was rude enough to try and shake me awake, despite the number of seats I was hogging.)

Tips & links

Sleeping in airports links & resources
Other lodging links & resources
Useful Italian
Useful Italian phrases and terms for lodging

English (Inglese) Italian (Italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...a hotel un albergo oon al-BEAR-go
...a B&B un bed-and-breakfast oon bet hand BREK-fust
...a rental room un'affittacamera oon ah-feet-ah-CAH-mair-ra apartment for rent un appartamento oon ah-part-tah-MENT-toh
...a farm stay un agriturismo oon ah-gree-tour-EES-moh
...a hostel un ostello oon oh-STEHL-loh
How much is...? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
a single room una singola OO-nah SEEN-go-la
double room for single use [will often be offered if singles are unavailable] doppia uso singola DOPE-pee-ya OO-so SEEN-go-la
a double room with two beds una doppia con due letti OO-nah DOPE-pee-ya cone DOO-way LET-tee
a double room with one big bed una matrimoniale OO-nah mat-tree-moan-nee-YAAL-lay
triple room una tripla OO-nah TREE-plah
with private bathroom con bagno cone BAHN-yoh
without private bathroom senza bagno [they might say con bagno in comune—"with a communal bath"] SEN-zah BAHN-yoh
for one night per una notte pair OO-nah NOH-tay
for two nights per due notti pair DOO-way NOH-tee
for three nights per tre notti pair tray NOH-tee
Is breakfast included? É incluso la prima colazione? ay in-CLOO-soh lah PREE-mah coal-laht-zee-YOAN-nay
Is there WiFi? C'é WiFi? chay WHY-fy?
May I see the room? Posso vedere la camera? POH-soh veh-DAIR-eh lah CAH-mair-rah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
Is there a cheaper one? C'é una più economica? chay OO-nah pew eh-ko-NO-mee-kah

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