The Best Ways To Sleep In An Airport Comfortably

Maybe an overnight layover was the best way to slash your travel budget. Maybe an unexpected winter storm delayed your flight. Maybe you just got confused about time zones. If you travel a lot, for one reason or another, you're probably going to end up spending the night in an airport eventually. If you know it's coming, you can scope out the airport online first and pack accordingly, but even if it takes you by surprise, you should be able to find a nice airport lounge, comfy waiting area, or secluded bit of floor to spend the night on.


Not all airports are created equal, as anyone who has been to Istanbul International Airport (one of the world's best airports for layovers) or Toronto Pearson International Airport (North America's most stressful airport) already knows. If you know you're going to be staying overnight, you might want to look up reviews of your airport, or search for it on the website Sleeping in Airports, to see how other exhausted travelers have fared. In most American airports, security won't even look twice at someone snoozing in a waiting area, but if they do, just be ready to show them your ticket so they know that you're planning to fly out in the morning, not move in.

Borrow a cot or find a couch

When you first realize that you're going to have to spend the night in an airport, you might feel like you're out of options, but in reality, there are still a lot of choices for places to sleep. Choosing the best one can make the difference between a good night's sleep and a bad one. Before spreading out on the floor and using a stack of jeans as a pillow, ask an airport staff member if they have a cot you can borrow for the night. Some airports have them and pull them out when major weather events cause flight cancellations, and helpful staff might be willing to grab one for you if you let them know you're stranded overnight without a place to sleep.


Don't give up on a comfy spot too quickly. Even if there aren't cots, you might be able to find some comfortable couches to sleep on, if you go looking. Since you have time, explore the other terminals, and especially the arrivals area. While a lot of departure waiting areas have armrests that keep you from lying down across the couches, arrivals often don't. If you're really stumped, search up your airport on Sleeping in Airports to see if there are any favorite spots previous travelers have slept in.

Pack everything you'll need to sleep comfortably — even on the floor

If you know in advance that you have an overnight layover, you should pack accordingly. There may be a lot of items you should buy instead of packing for your vacation, but your airport sleep emergency kit is not one of them. To stay comfortable, consider bringing a sleeping bag (or even just a sleeping bag liner) and a travel pillow with you. It can be chilly in airports overnight, so you may want a blanket too — but you can also just wear your coziest hoodie. Some travelers who sleep in airports regularly will even pack an inflatable raft so they can sleep on the floor in comfort.


Unfortunately, in an airport you don't have a lot of control over your surroundings, so even if you're lying down comfortably, you might have a hard time falling asleep. To combat this, consider bringing an eye mask to block out bright lights, and earplugs or headphones to block out the noise — just make sure you don't sleep through your alarm and miss your flight.

Keep your luggage safe while you sleep

If you don't want to lose your luggage during a flight, steer clear of New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport. If you don't want to lose your luggage at the airport while you're sleeping, keep it close by you at all times, or lock it up somewhere safe. Your best option is probably to see if the airport has a baggage check counter or lockers that you can use. Lockers are often very affordable, and you can usually store your bags there for less than $10. If your airport doesn't have them, or you really want to save the money, you should stay with your bags at all times — both so they don't get stolen and so that you don't accidentally trigger a major security alert that shuts down the whole terminal.


Before you fall asleep, you should tuck any valuable items out of sight. While airports are generally pretty safe, opportunistic thieves are everywhere, and if you leave your laptop on top of your bag, it might get grabbed while you're sleeping. If you pack bungee cords on your trip, you can use them and a master lock to secure your bags to airport furniture. At absolute minimum, consider falling asleep holding or physically on your bag, so that you'll wake up if someone tries to take it.

Get a lounge pass

If you're willing to shell out a little money for a better overnight experience at an airport (but not hotel-room money), you might want to check out what lounges are available. If there's one that's open 24/7, it could be the perfect place to get some sleep in relative comfort until it's time for your flight. If you have the right credit card, you might already have access to some lounges, and if not, you can usually buy a lounge pass that lets you in temporarily.


Make sure that the lounge you're booking doesn't have time limits, either for how long before your flight you can arrive or how long you're allowed to stay — though you may be able to negotiate with staff or pay extra to stay longer if it's not too busy overnight. If you can, choose a lounge that has reclining seats and rules about noise so you can sleep in peace.

Try out a sleeping pod or capsule hotel

If you're stuck at the airport because your flight was delayed or canceled and it's considered the airline's fault, they might be responsible for paying for your hotel room, and transportation there and back in time for your new flight in the morning. Having a bed, shower, and locking door is definitely preferable (and with this simple trick you can feel safer staying at a hotel alone), but unfortunately, there are probably going to be a lot of times where you can't get your stay comped by the airline. However, some airports around the world have smaller, and usually more budget-friendly, options that can still offer you some of the comforts of a hotel room: capsules and pods.


While sleeping in a pod might sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, some airports, like NYC's JFK and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, have bizarre-looking oval locations, just large enough to hold a recliner and a blanket, for you to take a quick nap in. These are usually rented by the hour, and prices vary from location to location. Some cost as little as $10 per hour, while others charge close to $50. Capsule hotels are like the upgraded version of these, and have been popular in Japan for decades. These micro hotel rooms hold nothing but a bed, and some are extremely cheap.