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How to Sit Out a Canceled Flight

Getting stuck in an airport is no fun. Here are some helpful tips for your next unexpected layover.

woman sitting in airport area, image
Photo caption
Perhaps you need a cheap inflatable pool raft to lie on for cancelled flights or long layovers.

Nobody wants to bed down in an airport. There’s no mint, not even a pillow. But you may have little choice. Airlines are canceling more flights and getting stingy with hotel vouchers. Here are some tips.

Ask for VIP-lounge access
Your airline doesn’t have to compensate you for delayed or canceled flights, but it can’t hurt to inquire.

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
O’Hare is among a group of select airports with cots for needy fliers. Come prepared. founder Donna McSherry, a travel agent, suggests hauling playing cards, earplugs, an alarm clock, disinfectant wipes, and menthol rub to mask odors. She also recommends a cheap inflatable pool raft to lie on.

Look into the mini-motel
This five-pound tent comes with an air mattress, alarm clock, reading light, toothpaste and toothbrush, and zippable windows. It sells for $50. Says inventor Frank Giotto, “It’s time to give travelers some comfort, privacy, and dignity.”

Photography by ISchmidt/Shutterstock

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