Whether monetary constraints prohibit you from booking a hotel, extreme weather conditions have you stranded, or you’re positive that you can get out on the first flight of the morning, you should be aware that spending the night in an airport can be stressful and even dangerous.
Tip #1 When Spending the Night in an Airport: Contact an airline representative immediately.
Once you receive confirmation that you’ve missed your connecting flight, contact an airline representative immediately to determine when ticket counters open in the morning and when the next available flight is. There’s nothing worse than sitting in line at a closed ticket counter behind other stranded passengers waiting to exchange their tickets for the next eight hours.
Tip #2 When Spending the Night in an Airport: Find Food!
If your stomach starts grumbling as soon as you arrive at the airport, be sure to check out meal options located inside the gate terminal. Some airports may have next to no food selections once you exit the gate area or those options may already be closed, depending on when you arrive. If you see something decent, grab it so you can avoid purchasing a two-day old sandwich off a Starbuck’s cart later.
Tip #3 When Spending the Night in an Airport: Evaluate Your Luggage.
After exiting the plane, you may feel compelled to go claim your luggage so you have the comfort of clean clothes and toiletries. Before you do this, please keep in mind that once you exit the gate terminal, you cannot re-enter without a valid ticket. If you need to exchange the ticket for your connecting flight, this means you will not be allowed into the gate area until visiting the ticket counter, which may not open for a few hours. Evaluate whether you really need that luggage immediately or if it would be safer (again this depends on the airport) to stay in the gate terminal overnight.
Tip #4 When Spending the Night in an Airport: Stay Awake!
If you choose to go claim your luggage and wait in the general terminal, it may be in your best interest to buy some coffee and stay awake. Depending on where the airport is located, travelers may be sharing the terminal with homeless people or shady characters. Internal airport security normally does their best to keep non-travelers out of public areas, but you may still come across some people who would like nothing more than to steal your laptop case out from under your head while you’re sleeping.
Tip #5 When Spending the Night in an Airport: Consider Stand-By.
When exchanging your ticket for the next available connecting flight out of the airport, ask the airline representative if you can still try to fly stand-by. This may get you to your destination quicker, but keep in mind that you could be competing with other stranded travelers trying to fly stand-by too.