faced with a lengthy layover or delay can sometimes feel stuck in airport limbo.
Exhausted from hours in transit, travellers without enough time to leave the
airport will often pay to access a lounge or hunker down at a restaurant for
But an additional
option – on-site sleep pods or suites – is an increasingly popular amenity in
airports from Europe to the United States. The concept can be traced to Japanese capsule hotels, first developed around 1980, and appeal to travellers
looking to nod off or work in private without having to pay for a traditional
hotel room or leave the airport.
Minute Suites started operating 13 pods at Philadelphia International
Airport in late 2009 and five at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International
Airport in 2011. These bijoux
private mini suites are bookable in 15-minute increments, 24/7, for
travellers to sleep, relax or work. Each 7ft-by-8ft cabin is equipped with a
daybed with bedding and pillows, an alarm clock, TV, desk and chair. According
to Daniel Solomon, co-founder and CEO, construction is currently underway for
two locations at Dallas/Fort Worth
International Airport, one of which is slated to open this month, while the
company is also developing a location at Chicago
O’Hare International Airport, which will open in 2014.
his Minute Suites partners all come from healthcare professional backgrounds.
“We always viewed our goal as creating a healthier travel experience,” Solomon
said. Between factors like restless nights of sleep on board and unhealthy
in-transit eating habits, many fliers are fatigued and unhealthy when
travellers have been escaping airport chaos and bunking up in-terminal for some
time outside the US. Yotel, which offers
“small, smart spaces in which to sleep, relax, refresh and connect,” according to
Jo Berrington, Yotel marketing director, opened airport capsule hotels in London’s
Gatwick and Heathrow airports in 2007, and in Amsterdam’s
Schiphol Airport in 2008, each of which
contains 32 or more private cabins. All are bookable by the hour with automated
check-in and check-out, and contain a bed, free wi-fi, a workstation, shower
and flat screen television. And they are looking to expand.
“We are already talking to a
number of US airports,” Berrington said. “They all see a huge opportunity to
enhance their offering with a concept like Yotel, offering a place to stay for just a few hours in between flights, a
long transit or the night before an early flight departure.”
A number of similar products
and services are available at international airports. Napcabs are German-engineered, 4sqm self-service units, equipped with amenities
such as double beds, worktables and air conditioning units. Fliers can purchase
time in the pods by the hour – currently only in operation in Munich Airport but set to debut elsewhere internationally – with the swipe of a credit
card on the door.
Additional brands include SnoozeCube, which has 10 soundproof units
equipped with a bed, television, free wi-fi and outlets to charge electronics
at Dubai International
Airport, and No 1 Traveller,
which operates a block of rooms with beds, en-suite bathrooms, TVs and wi-fi at
London’s Heathrow, although they only are open from 6 am to 10 pm.