A brief primer on sleeping in airports

While professional sports finally returned to Brooklyn earlier this month, odds are good airplanes won’t have a similar renaissance in our borough. Sure, Floyd Bennett Field, once in line to become a superairport, still stands largely intact along Jamaica Bay, but you’re more likely to run on the tarmac than to land on it.

Regardless, there might come a time when you’ll need to use one to get somewhere else – and perhaps you might even catch some shuteye in a terminal. Sometimes you have no choice; plenty of people who have flown through Denver in February or Miami in September can tell you that. But maybe you’ll be crazy (or cheap) enough to do it voluntarily. I hope my recent experience proves helpful in either event.

After arriving in Florianópolis on my recent Brazil trip, my plan was to catch a bus (well, three, but who’s counting) to Bombinhas, a coastal town about 35 miles to the north. Sadly, my flight got in around 10:00 p.m., and the first bus routing that would work was at 5:15 a.m. $60 for a room for five hours of sleep sounded like a poor investment.

My research yielded a website, The Guide to Sleeping in Airports, devoted to travelers in my situation. It compiles reviews of the free accommodations at airports, bus stations, train terminals, and other places around the world. It tempered my expectations, but I was still up for the adventure.

The night went about as well as I could have hoped. Some things I learned on the fly (sorry) from the experience:

1. Find a row of chairs with no armrests between. Unfortunately, Floripa offers no such luxury: each chair is flanked on both sides, making lying down impossible. These gentlemen demonstrate the two main postures available.

2. Look everywhere for an ideal spot. These guys were situated in the ticketing area, where there was a lot of activity. I found a perfect place on the second floor. All of the shops there had closed for the evening, so there were few people milling about. Better yet, it was in a corner, so I never had to crank my head to the side the way the guy in stripes did.

During the day, you probably wouldn’t even think of this spot’s prime use.

3. Make sure there’s a security camera around. That shadow in the upper-left corner was good for peace of mind, since I was in a place where no officials could see me.

4. Change positions frequently. Neither of these was the most comfortable posture, so I found myself waking up every 30-45 minutes. This was a good thing: when I was really young, I had an awful stiff neck for three days during a road trip, and I prefer to not repeat that experience.

5. Don’t be ashamed. I wasn’t alone. Here’s a shot of the main hall.

And that $60? It bought a lot of caipirinhas. But now I need a long break from those. Too sugary.

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One Response to A brief primer on sleeping in airports

  1. Kathy N. says:

    The stick figures crack me up.

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