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Airport Layover Survival Tips

It's no fun to be stuck in an airport. Here are a few ideas to make your stay more comfortable.

woman asleep on her luggage at an airport, image
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Sleeping in an airport can be uncomfortable, but there may be alternatives.

Nobody wants to bed down in an airport. But you may have little choice—airlines are canceling more flights and limiting hotel vouchers. Some tips:

  • Ask for VIP lounge access Your airline doesn’t have to compensate you for late or canceled flights, but it can’t hurt to check.
  • Skip the bad sites if you can The 5,500 reviewers at rank New York’s JFK, Los Angeles International, and Chicago O’Hare as the least sleeper-friendly U.S. airports. O’Hare gets slammed for its “buzzing fluorescent lights” and aromas like “feet and broccoli.”
  • Request an airport bed A few select airports—O’Hare is one—supply cots to needy fliers.
  • Come prepared Travel agent Donna McSherry, founder of, suggests hauling playing cards, earplugs, an alarm clock, wet wipes, and menthol rub to mask odors. She also recommends a cheap inflatable pool raft to lie on.
  • Look into the Mini Motel It’s a $50, five-pound tent with an air mattress, alarm clock, reading light, toothpaste and toothbrush, and zippable windows. Says inventor Frank Giotto, “It’s time to give travelers some comfort, privacy, and dignity.”

Photography by Mikhail Starodubov/Shutterstock

This article was first published in September 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.