Changes in the airport Twilight Zone

Sleeping pod

Sleeping podInsider has never fallen asleep at an airport although he has had a terrible nightmare at quite a few. This is not because the airports in question were particularly uncomfortable or unwelcoming – it is just that they tend to be noisy, brightly-lit places with lots of people who are not my wife. In other words, not an ideal place to nestle down for eight straight hours of nocturnal rest.

But things are changing fast in the airport twilight zone. A number of airports are encouraging the travel weary passenger to bunk down and shut their eyes. Quiet zones, very comfortable modern furniture and even sleeping cabins in terminals that can be rented cheaply for a few hours at a time, are now available to make sleeping an attractive option.

This trend is reflected in a recent survey organised by the Sleeping in Airports portal. The Sleeping in Airports portal’s users assessed the airports based on comfort, facilities for travellers, cleanliness and quality of service. Ranking is made according to the number of votes cast by individual travellers, from November 2014 to September 2015.

Readers and authors of the report pointed out that with the increase in air traffic the quality of passenger services at the airports is getting better. Airports in Europe are becoming more friendly for people, who – while waiting for a connecting flight – need to take a nap.

First place in the European category was awarded to Munich Airport, slightly ahead of Helsinki and Zurich. The top ten also includes airports in Porto, Tallinn, Amsterdam, Athens, Stockholm and Vienna. Changi Airport in Singapore was awarded first place in the world category.

At the other end of spectrum, some of the airports which appear not to welcome the sleeping traveller so warmly, appear to enforce the regulations with the sensitivity of a Stasi policeman.

Keflavik airport in Reykjavik, Iceland is voted the worst airport for sleeping by survey respondents. One passenger posted a hilarious camera phone image of a notice pointing out in three different languages that “sleeping, camping and cooking is prohibited in the building and on the grounds” of the airport.

Presumably, there have been instances in the past in which hippy passengers have erected their tents and broken out the calor gas stove right in front of the check in desk. But how did they knock in their tent pegs, I wonder?

Another passenger who had tried to catch a nap at Keflavik told the survey: “No sooner had I got to sleep than I was kicked by a security guard telling myself and fellow travellers to get up and stop sleeping.”

Also in the bottom 10 for sleepers is London Luton and New York LaGuardia Airport where one traveller commented that after spending the night there he “would rather sleep on the streets of Soviet Eastern Europe” than stay there again.

LAX and Sydney also get a bum rap in the survey with voters complaining that in Sydney sleepers are constantly being woken by officials wanting to check their boarding passes and passports.

Please send your comments to gmason@55north.com.

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