Sleeping in an airport is not fun. Once you accept your fate and it sinks in that you are going to sleep at the airport, you tell yourself that it won’t be too bad. You have a good bench picked out, you have entertainment, you have a makeshift pillow and a good jacket for a blanket. You say, “how bad can it be? Its just like camping except better because its indoors.” It never works out the way you envision it. There are too many factors that can go wrong. You can get kicked out of the gate you were in because of “security reasons” and have to go to the ticketing terminal where all the benches have arm rests. You go from cozy, carpeted, private gate to a sea of bodies and tile. Walking around, scouting out a spot, you see the lazy airport personnel chatting it up with co workers, the early-to-bed airport crashers who know they don’t have a good spot but can’t leave their stuff to find another one and instead just fell defeated in the hallway. They missed their connection or had their flight canceled just like us, I can see the despair in their eyes.
There are four components to sleeping in an airport making the difference between a relatively restful night and a night of wakefulness and hopelessness. The first and most important factor is temperature. Often taken for granted in a normal sleeping arrangement, sleeping when you are cold is nearly impossible. Further, you want to be warmer sleeping than you are throughout the rest of the day, making a seemingly comfortable room temperature too cold to sleep without proper bed accessories. The second factor to a good nights sleep in an airport, many would rate number one, is sleeping surface. Usually you have two options, cushioned bench or thin carpet floor. Tile is possible, but only in the most desperate of circumstances when your will to get sleep is only slightly higher than your will to live. Airports, fearing civil altercations, seem to have removed quality (armrest-less) benches from sleeping acceptable areas because of their highly coveted worth. The reason surface is number two is because it is not a deal breaker, a decent nights sleep is attainable on carpet when paired with other favorable amenities.
The third issue affecting sleep in an airport is light. A close third, bright light cannot facilitate a peaceful rest. Luckily, it is a quick fix to prevent light from intruding sleeping space. I have found a hat can work but has the tendency to fall off with movement. Other, more creative, patrons have built a makeshift tent with a jacket and prop, such as a bench. This method however potentially takes away a valuable temperature regulator. The last aspect is noise. This is most often not a factor because there is always a quiet place, but no place in an airport stays quiet. Vacuuming, loud conversation, airport announcements and a sudden influx of people can quickly wake you to alert and a decision must be made to abandon your nest or ride out the intrusion, either of which could be unrecoverable.
When faced with the potential of sleeping in an airport, weigh all options and contingency plans and recognize that it will be almost always worse than it initially sounds.