Sleeping at Airports

It occurred to me, as I lay attempting to find a comfortable position on Delta’s Skyclub not-at-all-comfortable chair so that I may catch even a few precious moments of sleep, that I’ve spent far too much of my travelling life doing this.

Ever since Tony introduced me to the finer things in air travel, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed everything that comes with chasing and eventually using elite flyer status, including but not limited to faster security clearance, expedited boarding, and lounge access.  I have turned into a complete status junkie and I love it.  But apart from more comfortable seats in first class aircraft cabins, I can’t help but notice that sleep is something that even elite flyers can’t get catered for, outside of a hotel room for a night.

In March this year I booked a slightly impulsive trip to meet my brothers in the Philippines, flying Business Class on Air China (the occasional  hilarity of which I’ll save for another post).  I had a layover at MNL for 6 hours and decided this wasn’t worth a hotel room since the chain hotels you could actually guarantee leaving with a good night’s sleep and your dignity intact close to the airport ran at a couple of hundred dollars a night, and besides – I’d read about something that sounded truly fantastic – day rooms.

The idea was supposed to be that you could rent a room in the airport, with little more than a bed, a toilet, a shower, and a power outlet or two – all for the princely sum of around $18.  This sounded perfect –  if you’ve got a layover of a few hours you don’t really need anything more than a comfy bed and a shower, and the difference that these two would’ve made to that part of my trip would’ve been indescribable.

In reality, I couldn’t find a single person that knew what on earth I was talking about, despite finding increasingly inventive ways to describe these elusive day rooms.  To this day I am convinced that against the advice of the NAIA website, they don’t actually exist.  I’ve also found that as far as I can see they don’t exist here in the US either.  Why?

Lounges are an incredibly worthwhile addition to the first-class air travel  experience, and even the worst lounge – say, for example, the Air China Business Class Lounge at MNL (which was like stepping 30 years back in time) – beats waiting at the gate for your plane.  Even if the food is of decidedly average quality (Delta Skyclubs, I’m looking at you), you can get alcoholic drinks, free WiFi, and a moderately comfortable seat.

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Tony tries out Delta Skyclub’s Uncomfortabeds(TM)

But why no beds, especially airside?  During our three-hour layover there isn’t time to head to an airport hotel, especially when you have to come back through security.  I understand real estate at airports is at a relative premium but this morning, in the Delta Skyclub at MSP, I’d have happily paid a fee to rent a room with a bed in it for a few hours.

And when I made an excellent decision to take advantage of remarkably cheap first class returns to LAS on DL for a Tier Point run, but coupled it with a terrible decision to forgo a hotel room for the night – hey, it’s the city that never sleeps, right?! – I’d have paid a lot of cash for a bed at the airport for a few hours, if only to avoid the sampled shouts of “Wheel…..of……FORTUNE!!!!” from the various machines, which is enough to drive anyone crazy.

Day rooms at US airports – workable or a pipe dream?  I’m hoping the former.

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