Sleeping in airports: what are the rules?

Whether you’re stuck at an airport due to a flight delay, cancellation, or your itinerary involves a long layover, you may need to rest at the terminal. Getting a good night’s sleep at an airport can be a challenge, especially at the busiest airports that operate 24 hours a day. Knowing in advance which airports allow sleeping can help you make the most of your time. stopovers at major international airports around the world.


The most sleep-friendly airports

Some of the larger airports not only allow sleep for weary travelers, but they strive to make downtime as comfortable as possible by providing designated rest areas with suitable furniture available free of charge. These establishments market their relaxation equipment on their websites, so that travelers know what to expect.

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Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) offers the Instant Paris Lounge at gate K of Terminal 2E, the international terminal. The lounge has 50 reclining lounge chairs accessible to all passengers. Additional rest areas are also available free of charge to all travelers.

Dubai Airport (DXB) has designated rest areas with recliners available free of charge to all passengers. However, recliners can fill up quickly, especially during busier seasons, so it’s wise to plan ahead. The airport also offers paid sleep lounges available for one hour up to a full night in Concourses A, C and D.

Istanbul (IST) is also on our list for its sleep amenities. Newly opened in 2019, the airport offers “nap zones” which can be used free of charge at six points in the terminal, with a capacity to serve 278 people in total.

Istanbul Airport offers several relaxation areas. Photo: Istanbul Airport

Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) takes a unique approach, with multiple themed areas for distinct purposes. According to the airport’s website, travelers can rest in the relaxation zone and visit the refreshment zone to use the restrooms and showers. There are also paid options to sleep on site.

Airports with Paid Sleep Options

The next step in our review covers major airports where sleeping may technically be permitted, but the use of paid options is encouraged on facility websites.

Hartsfield-Jackson International (ATL), the world’s busiest airport, offers paid beds in Concourse B near gate B16. Although you can sleep in the terminal if you find a comfortable place, it should be noted that the airport now restricts access to the facility between 11:00 a.m. and 04:30 a.m. due to homeless people sleeping in the domestic terminal. It’s best to be airside during this time window, so you don’t have to worry about going through security checkpoints after they close.

Guangzhou Baiyun (CAN) offers a paid option to sleep in Terminal 2, where rooms can be booked by the hour. There is also a library lounge in this area which can be used for a fee. The airport contains several lounges where passengers can sleep, but there are no designated rest areas with optimal furniture for stretching out.

London Heathrow (LHR) provides sun loungers at its terminals, although the website states that “there is nowhere to sleep at night at the terminal”. There is a paid option from a minimum stay of two hours, airside rooms at Heathrow Terminal 3, located in the departure lounge after the security checkpoint. However, the company’s website notes that accommodations are temporarily closed.

Chicago O’Hare (ORD) has an on-site hotel accessible by underground walkways from the domestic terminals. Passengers wishing to sleep in the terminal would be advised to ensure they are airside before security checkpoints close. These times vary by terminal.

This list is not exhaustive, so it is advisable to inquire directly with the airport when planning a trip that includes a long layover. Passengers traveling to the United States should always check Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint closing times for the appropriate terminals prior to travel. And of course, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact airport operations, so keep in mind that airport regulations are very subject to change.

Do you often have to close your eyes in an airport? Did you come across any particularly nice options? Leave a comment below and share the find with the community.

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