Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Voyages of Vivienne: sleeping in airports

Vivienne and I have both traveled a lot, and both of us have had to sleep in airports more times than we care to remember. It's an acquired skill; perhaps you can benefit from our shared experience. (and the insights of the hysterically fun and useful

Worst case, without doubt, was late summer at the Norfolk Virginia airport.  We were informed, in rapid succession, that (1) no more flights would be leaving on the night in question (it's about 10 pm when we're told this), (2) there are no hotel rooms available in town, (3) TSA has gone home for the night, so if we leave the airport, we have to stay OUTSIDE all night, and (4) all concessionaires are closed for the night.

So here's the choice - sit outdoors on the curb where it's hot, and swat mosquitoes all night, or stay in the airport.  (toilets in the airport = no decision to be made, in my world)

Air-conditioning in the airport runs 24/7.  Temperature in the airport, by 10 pm, is hovering somewhere in the meat locker range.  Hundreds of people wearing shorts, tee shirts, or sundresses are now miserably cold.

Happily, we had to retrieve our luggage and keep it with us during the night, and I had socks, loafers, long pants and a hooded sweatshirt in my bag.  While I wasn't comfortable sleeping on the icy tile floors, I was in a better circumstance than most.

Final advice: always consider the possibility, when packing, that you will encounter unseasonable weather, or horrendous delays, or a flight re-routing that takes you someplace unexpected.  Not that you need to pack a parka and mukluks, but something versatile that will stave off frostbite might be wise.


  1. I've done an overnight at Gatwick when I was flying home from a semester abroad, and I've done an overnight at the airport in Madrid. I was pretty hot in the Madrid airport, but I did manage to get 90 minutes of sleep! I remember going up and down the movable walkways out of sheer boredom.

  2. It's been so long since I've had to sleep in an airport. ugh. The last time my flight was cancelled, my son & I were stuck in BWI, enroute from Manchester to Louisville. I convinced the airline folks in Manchester, before we took off, to ask the BWI folks to find us a hotel if we did get cancelled. It was late summer, terrible thunderstorms, good possibility. This was probably in 2008. They actually took care of us, picked up the tab & we flew out the next morning. Can you imagine any airline doing that now? It used to be de riguer up until the 2000s, continued de-regs & buy-outs.