My round-the-world trip earlier this year took me through a few of the world's busiest "hub" airports (the ones where lots of travelers have to make connections). Typically, connecting times are relatively short ... and occasionally too short to account for delayed inbound flights. But on other occasions, you face extended waits, especially if you're trying to arrange connections using frequent-flyer awards. In those trips, you can either camp out in a lobby or lounge club, if you have access. But if the wait is as much as six or seven hours, you might like a place where you can stretch out on a bed or maybe catch a quick shower.
Unfortunately, although you find lots of hotels clustered around most big airports, almost all of them are "landside," which means outside security. To arrange a room you have to leave security, claim your baggage, schlep to the hotel, then go through the whole security and immigration process again for your connecting flight. I suspect most folks just give up and hang around the airport. Even if you're not connecting, you might want to get the check-in rigmarole out of the way before an early-morning flight.
For some reason, the obvious solution—accommodations "airside," or after security and immigration—hasn't caught on much. I know of just four real hotels airside in big hub airports:
- Dubai International Hotel operates a full-scale, four-star hotel airside in the terminal, complete with restaurants, business centers and a swimming pool.
- Evergreen Airside Transit Hotel in Taipei's Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport operates a somewhat smaller and less lavish but still full-service hotel airside.
- Pan Pacific's Airside Transit Hotel runs a similar hotel at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
- TAV Airport Hotel operates a unique hotel at Istanbul Ataturk Airport with rooms both airside and landside.
Beyond these, other airside airport accommodations are cubicles or "pods" just barely big enough for a bed, desk/work area, and chair. All provide TV and Internet access. Two include sink/shower facilities:
- Yotel operates an airside installation at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, near Pier D. Rates start at €40 (about $52) for a four-hour minimum; an eight-hour overnight costs €76; double beds and twins are available at higher rates.
- No 1 Traveller operates cabins at London/Heathrow Terminal 3, with rates of £20 (about $28) per hour for a single and £30 per hour for a twin with a minimum stay of two hours.
Other airside operations feature even smaller cubicles, typically a bed, TV, desk and chair, and airport Wi-Fi or direct computer connection. They have no plumbing: You have to use the airport's facilities, which likely means no shower. Among them:
- Minute Suites operates installations at the Atlanta (Concourse B) and Philadelphia airports (terminals A-B link). Rates are high: $30 for the first hour, then $7.50 for each additional 15 minutes, and $120 for four hours to overnight stays.
- Napcabs operates at Munich Airport, Terminal 2. Rates are €15 per hour from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and €10 euros per hour overnight, with a minimum charge of €30.
- Sams Snooze at My Space provides pods at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, Terminal 3, for $10 an hour single, $15 an hour double.
- Snoozecube operates in Dubai's Terminal 1; the rate is AED5 (about $16) per hour.
- Sleepbox (I couldn't find a website for prices and reservations) operates at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport.
Typically, airside accommodations offer rooms by the hour, as well as overnight. I'm surprised that such accommodations haven't caught on more quickly; maybe it's partially because floor space is so limited at many big hubs. Certainly, the folks who make the prefab cubicles are pushing for additional airport installations. Maybe you'll see more in the next few years ... let's hope.
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Ed Perkins on Travel is copyright (c) 2012 Tribune Media Services, Inc.