Airside airport hotels

Published 06-11-2019

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At several dozen major world airports, you can find overnight accommodations airside -- post security and post immigration. Airside hotels cater to two groups: Travelers having an extended overnight connection at a big hub airport and travelers leaving a destination area on an early morning flight from a big airport. For both groups, the big advantage is the same: Airside, you're past the hassles of baggage check-in, immigration, and security for your outgoing flight.

-- Connecting travelers never have to leave secure airport space: They don't have to claim checked baggage, exit through local immigrations lines, then only to reverse the process a few hours later: re-check baggage, go through entry immigration, and go through security. Clearly, avoiding those hassles means saving several hours of aggravation. If you have an eight-hour connection, you can get at least six hours of sleep airside. An alternative stay at an airport hotel outside security would cut that by at least half.

-- Originating travelers can go through the departure airport hassles the night before their flights when, presumably, they have plenty of time, and be relaxed the next morning. All they have to do then is find their departure gate. They don't have to arrive two or more hours ahead of departure in case security is slow.

It isn't always quite that simple. Some connecting airports require a secondary screening even for travelers who arrive in the airport's primary secured area. Still, overnighting airside is generally a lot simpler.

Although I've been aware of airside hotels for many years, I finally decided to try one in May, 2019, for a return flight out of Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. I was arriving in Amsterdam Wednesday evening on a train from Cologne, where I was catching a flight to Seattle Thursday morning. I had no particular reason to spend that one short overnight in downtown Amsterdam, and I could catch a good connecting train at Utrecht directly to Schiphol. Accordingly, I booked a night at the airside Mercure hotel.

Overall, that stay provided what I expected: a very easy morning getting to my flight, with minimal hassle. But the experience was not totally seamless. I had a bit of trouble finding the right check-in lane, where I had to show a hotel reservation before I could get a boarding pass. The room was comfortable but small; not the kind of place where you might enjoy a relaxing evening. The dinner options airside at Schiphol are less-than-exciting. I couldn't enjoy my lounge entry because the lounge accepted only boarding passes for the next day. And because of upcoming day-use customers, I had to be out by 9 a.m. -- not a problem in my case, but a real annoyance on a late-morning flight.

The last time I looked, airside hotel accommodations were available at about two dozen big airports around the world. Accommodations come in three versions:

-- Conventional hotel rooms with bed, bath, desk, and such.

-- Small cabins with bed and not much else -- some cabins include a private shower; at others, the shower is down the hall.

-- Sleeping pods with a bed and virtually nothing else, although, as with cabins, showers are available somewhere.

-- Almost all offer both hourly daytime and overnight rate options; most offer shower-only options.

Rates vary from very cheap to exorbitant. But when you have a long daytime layover, a short overnight connection, or an early morning departure, an airside bed, shower, and desk can be very enticing.

The best way to locate airside hotels is to log onto the website of a hub airport where you might want an airside hotel. Almost all such sites list available onsite hotels. The main caveat is to make sure that you get an airside hotel: an onsite hotel outside security is a lot less useful.

At big U.S. hubs, airside hotels are most useful to night-before stays and U.S.-to-anywhere connections. All travelers connecting inbound from international (other than airports with pre-clearance) have to leave security, so they can't remain airside.

(Send e-mail to Ed Perkins at eperkins@mind.net. Also, check out Ed's new rail travel website at www.rail-guru.com.)

The last time I looked, airside hotel accommodations were available at about two dozen big airports around the world. Accommodations come in three versions:

-- Conventional hotel rooms with bed, bath, desk, and such.

-- Small cabins with bed and not much else -- some cabins include a private shower; at others, the shower is down the hall.

-- Sleeping pods with a bed and virtually nothing else, although, as with cabins, showers are available somewhere.

-- Almost all offer both hourly daytime and overnight rate options; most offer shower-only options.

Rates vary from very cheap to exorbitant. But when you have a long daytime layover, a short overnight connection, or an early morning departure, an airside bed, shower, and desk can be very enticing.

The best way to locate airside hotels is to log onto the website of a hub airport where you might want an airside hotel. Almost all such sites list available onsite hotels. The main caveat is to make sure that you get an airside hotel: an onsite hotel outside security is a lot less useful.

At big U.S. hubs, airside hotels are most useful to night-before stays and U.S.-to-anywhere connections. All travelers connecting inbound from international (other than airports with pre-clearance) have to leave security, so they can't remain airside.

(Send e-mail to Ed Perkins at eperkins@mind.net. Also, check out Ed's new rail travel website at www.rail-guru.com.)

-- Small cabins with bed and not much else -- some cabins include a private shower; at others, the shower is down the hall.

-- Sleeping pods with a bed and virtually nothing else, although, as with cabins, showers are available somewhere.

-- Almost all offer both hourly daytime and overnight rate options; most offer shower-only options.

Rates vary from very cheap to exorbitant. But when you have a long daytime layover, a short overnight connection, or an early morning departure, an airside bed, shower, and desk can be very enticing.

The best way to locate airside hotels is to log onto the website of a hub airport where you might want an airside hotel. Almost all such sites list available onsite hotels. The main caveat is to make sure that you get an airside hotel: an onsite hotel outside security is a lot less useful.

At big U.S. hubs, airside hotels are most useful to night-before stays and U.S.-to-anywhere connections. All travelers connecting inbound from international (other than airports with pre-clearance) have to leave security, so they can't remain airside.

(Send e-mail to Ed Perkins at eperkins@mind.net. Also, check out Ed's new rail travel website at www.rail-guru.com.)

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