What do you do when you have an eight hour layover in an airport overnight? Would you get yourself an airport hotel that you’re conceivably going to only use for six hours?
Those of us on a budget might consider sleeping in the terminal, as while the airport itself is closed, often at least one terminal is left open. I have done this before at Los Angeles and it was not particularly fun, but my experience in Stockholm was different.
Overnight at Stockholm Arlanda Airport
Sleeping In Airports is a web site dedicated to those who decide to stay overnight between flights. Before travel, I checked out the page on Stockholm Arlanda Airport and found it was thought to be a decent place to crash. We landed just before 11pm, and check-in was to open around 5am for my onward connection.
After collecting my baggage, I hoofed it from Terminal 2 to the 24 hour 7-11 in Terminal 5 to pick up some water. From there I went to Sky City, the shopping area between terminals and found myself a bench.
Sitting down, I managed to doze off for a little while, before becoming wide awake around 2am. It was a little chilly so I put on a hoodie and went for a walk. Quite a number of people were stretched out on benches, or sitting at tables talking to pass the time.
Heading back to my bench, I put on some music and bopped away, much to the bemusement of some workers in the nearby McDonald’s and probably those watching on CCTV too! Eventually around 4:45am I headed back to Terminal 2, checked in and went to the lounge.
Surprisingly the time passed extremely quickly, unlike my LAX experience where seven hours felt like forever. The reason is that Stockholm Arlanda is brightly lit, feels fairly warm and is a welcoming place to stay.
Cleaning people periodically passed through on motorised equipment and security staff walked through regularly. They didn’t bat an eyelid at me chilling on my bench, so common is it for people to do this.
An eyemask and ear plugs would have made for the total sleep experience, and others were sleeping, using carry on luggage as pillows. All in all it turned out to be a lovely experience and I saved €60 on a hostel room. I’d certainly recommend doing it!
Have you ever stayed overnight at an airport when it was closed when between flights? What was your experience like? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
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Done this twice, once beyond security, one outside. First was at ATL during a stormy night where I missed my connection. My parents didn’t want me to leave the concourses (i.e. exit the secure area), as I was 16. The second was 3 years later when a friend and I arrived at LHR at like 2:00 AM after taking the late train back to London from Edinburgh. Flight wasn’t until late morning. It was a miserable day. I *almost* did this at BCN T1 just a few weeks ago. But instead I shelled out $35 USD for a hostel. Which… Read more »
I’ve never done it beyond security, which I probably would mind less than being on the other side… though if shops aren’t open, I’d rather have the option landside. That’s a long time to be stuck at Heathrow, partying in central London would have been better! With the hostel price, I think $35 is not too bad, but if I didn’t sleep, I’d not consider it money well spent, but it’s not much anyway, so no biggie. I’d rather not have to stay in the airport for hours on end, but sometimes it just happens! Thanks for the comment!
I’ve done both stay-at-airport and stay-at-airport-hotel, and have mixed reactions to both. The hotel was certainly more comfortable, but you lose sleep time because you need to get to the hotel, have the overhead of the check-in/check-out, etc. But finding a comfortable (or merely acceptable) place to sleep in the airport can be a challenge — I’d find a row of chairs with no one sitting on it, but then I noticed that there is a metal armrest between each of the seats, so you can’t lay down across them. Then I noticed that EVERY SEATING SECTION has this armrest… Read more »
I did notice this myself, the seats with arm rests in between. Most of them were like this, apart from the benches like the one I perched myself on. The reason I did the overnight was as you said, as the check-in, check-out and getting to and from the hotel would have taken time which reduces the overall. All in all it’s not bad, but I would only do it in a situation like I was in. Thanks for the comment, glad to see others have tried it as well!