The world’s best airports to sleep in
SLEEPING and airports; it is a fraught relationship. In few places does a visit to the land of nod seem more appealing. Is there any state more catatonic than being air-side when your flight has been delayed for eight hours until gone midnight? Or when you have a lengthy layover halfway through a mammoth journey?
There are only so many times you can stroll around the shops vacantly staring at leather belts; there are only so many Bloody Marys you can sup by yourself at the bar. Yet, few places are less conducive to getting some shut-eye. First there is the noisy stream of people. Then there are the ear-splitting tannoy announcements. But more than these, there is the rock-hard seating with razor-sharp armrests, whose only purpose is to stop you sprawling out and escaping the horror. In some countries sleep deprivation is a method of torture. At JFK it is civil engineering.
It has always been a mystery why airports seem so keen to stop you dozing off. (A few take things to extremes: Reykjavik even puts up signs explicitly forbidding flyers from attempting some shut-eye.) Perhaps they worry that the moment people stop moving they also stop buying duty-free. Maybe they think that a sprawling, snoring passenger will be a nuisance to those around him. They may just have never considered tired passengers’ needs. But Gulliver suspects that, like many in the commercial aviation business, they are merely sadists.
I was grateful, therefore, to be pointed in the direction of “The Guide to Sleeping in Airports”. The website has just released its 2015 ranking of the best airports around the world in which to get some sleep. The bar for inclusion is pretty low: “Features likely to help boost an airport's sleep-ability factor include things like designated rest zones, comfortable couches, courtesy blankets and quiet corners in the post-security section. That, and staff sympathetic to the sleeper's cause.” That doesn’t seem too much to ask, does it? Yet remarkably few make the grade.
Singapore Changi International comes out top. The website cites Singapore's free lounge chairs, low-lit relaxation zones, armrest-free seating at the gates, free massage chairs and easy chairs. Gulliver can’t quibble. It is, undoubtedly, one of the most pleasant airports that I have passed through—even when on one of those aforementioned long layovers. Others in the top five are Seoul Incheon, Helsinki, Munich and Vienna. To no one’s surprise, given its zero-tolerance policy, Reykjavik is rated the world’s most sleep-unfriendly. As if visiting the land of the midnight sun weren't tiring enough already.