Is sleeping overnight in the Hamburg Airport a Good Idea?
May 13, 2010 8:02 AM   Subscribe

I have seven hours between flights in the Hamburg airport -- 11pm until 6am. Is getting a hotel worth the cost? Should I attempt to sleep at the airport?

These flights are not part of the same itinerary. The first is returning from Spain, then the next is my flight back to the United States. I'm trying to travel relatively cheaply, so I'm worried about the cost of taxis and a hotel that I'm staying at for 5 hours. On the other hand, I've never slept in an airport before (which is perhaps both a good thing and a missed opportunity in one!). I've read about sleeping in airports, but does anyone have any experience with this? Stories of security at the airport in Hamburg? Thoughts?
posted by Peter Petridish to Travel & Transportation around Hamburg, Germany (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've slept overnight in airports at least three times. It's uncomfortable, but I've never felt like it was 'wrong.' In Heathrow (six years ago), I pulled out my sleeping bag and slept on the floor. This was overnight in a lounge area where there were a lot of people sleeping. I wasn't the only one doing the sleeping bag thing. No one has ever bothered me, asked to see my ticket, etc.
posted by kitcat at 8:34 AM on May 13, 2010

I've slept at the Madrid airport. I was backpacking through Europe at the time, so I wasn't at all concerned for safety at the airport. Granted, at the back of mind, safety (for my belongings) was part of the reason that it was more like several naps, instead of real sleep. That and the bright lights, occasional noise (excited ppl with late night flights aren't really concerned about interrupting others' sleep), and discomfort. When I got on my flight to Berlin the next morning, I slept like a log.

(btw, I'm female, 5'3'', and was about 22 but looked younger at the time)

Make sure you find a comfy spot, those get taken up pretty fast! And I recommend taking an aspirin or something on your flight, as well as ear plugs and an eye mask (for the flight, not the airport).

I don't know about the Hamburg Airport, but if you can take public transportation then stay at a hostel, the cost wouldn't be so bad. A bed in a big group room can be really cheap.
posted by Neekee at 8:35 AM on May 13, 2010

Travel time, security lines and other logistics will probably whittle down your sleep time even more than you're anticipating. And if you're anything like me you won't sleep soundly anyway knowing you've got your next leg coming up in just a few scant hours. Leaving the airport isn't worth it.
posted by thejoshu at 8:44 AM on May 13, 2010

Best answer: If you can take a shower after sleeping in the airport (or not sleeping), it makes a huge difference.
posted by smackfu at 8:46 AM on May 13, 2010

No do not check into a hotel .
Go to the lounge and see if you can buy an access pass for the day.
posted by radsqd at 9:03 AM on May 13, 2010

If you are on different itineraries, that suggests to me that if you are traveling with baggage, you'd have to exist the "secure zone" and claim your bags, and then re-clear security. I don't know how the Hamburg airport works but you might not have to go through customs if you stay in the airport (i.e., claim bags and then re-check them for the next flight). However, if you go to the hotel, I'm pretty sure you'd need to clear customs in order to exit from the airport. (This is all a WAG, though.)

That suggests to me that going to a hotel (even a close-by airport hotel) would get you even LESS time than you think. Because if you flight DEPARTS at 6am, that means you'd still need to check in and clear security.

If you were traveling during the day, I'd say look into buying a day-pass for one of the airport lounges (some of them have showers). Might be worth the $50 USD or so (but that might not be consistent with really trying to travel cheap). However, the lounges might not be open at the hours you'd be there, so YMMV.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 9:03 AM on May 13, 2010

Here's the site for the Hamburg airport lounge, which looks to have some sofa spaces that would allow you to stretch out. Access is EUR 23.80. Just make sure that its open all night!
posted by googly at 9:13 AM on May 13, 2010

The main lounge is not open during those hours. Neither of the other two lounges (Emirates & Lufthansa) are either. Hotels near the airport start at $92.

Just find a nice spot and use your bag as a pillow on the airport floor.
posted by gman at 9:18 AM on May 13, 2010

Best answer: Looks like you could get a room for $65 with Priceline, if you decided to go that route.

I use them all the time for layovers like this. Often they'll have a free shuttle service to get you back to the airport in time too.
posted by jmmpangaea at 9:24 AM on May 13, 2010

I don't think a hotel room is worth it, just the hassle of getting there, knowing that you'll have to get out soon, etc makes the decision pretty clear to me.

Take a little necessaire with toiletries and you'll feel like new in the morning, after washing up. See if you can get a blanket from the former flight, airports tend to be too ventilated for camping.
posted by Tarumba at 9:34 AM on May 13, 2010

I had never heard of a paid airport lounge before today (?!) This wasn't what I was referring to when I say I slept in a lounge above.
posted by kitcat at 9:51 AM on May 13, 2010

I slept in Manchester Airport in London en-route to Spain one night. It was ok, was concerned about theft (I was in the middle of a big hallway, only comfy chairs I could find) so I had all my stuff leaned up against me so it would have to rattle me if something moved.

i think I got at least a few minutes sleep, but problems were
1) Lights
2) every 5 minutes security message "Please note due to hightened secuirty all unattendande baggage may be destroyed"
3) Things get started early at an airport, like 4am cleaning crew, 4:30 rush, etc. My flight was not until later in the morning as I recall.

I had no Idea what I was doing, so it is defiantly doable with a little prep. My suggestion, rubber bands (to "attach" everything to you) and ear plugs. And a pillow or something to sleep on the floor with might help.
posted by DetonatedManiac at 10:07 AM on May 13, 2010

Yes, get a hotel. I've spent one night an an airport (Frankfurt) and I swear I will never, ever, ever put myself – or anyone I care about – through something like that again, regardless of cost.

It's an unforgettably miserable experience. It's just not worth it.
posted by halogen at 10:40 AM on May 13, 2010

I've slept in Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Boston, and JFK. Flying to Senegal results in lots of 8 hour overnight layovers. Never in Hamburg, though. If you do have to exit the secure area to claim your bags you might have a problem, as you often can't check your bags until 3 hours before a flight. And outside the terminal there are fewer places to sit or lie down.
posted by Nothing at 12:03 PM on May 13, 2010

Sleep on the plane!

Trains from the airport to downtown run til 12 and start again at 4:

Explore your last night in Europe!
posted by GregorWill at 1:15 PM on May 13, 2010

Sleeping in the Hamburg airport reviews, thanks to Sleeping in Airports. Nothing since 2008, though.
posted by rtha at 2:19 PM on May 13, 2010

1. Spain and Germany are in the EU, you will not have to go through customs. Security, yes. Customs, no.
2. Unlike USA airports, European airports often have back check lockers for hire. Shove your stuff in there and sleep soundly.

I wouldn't bother leaving the airport.
posted by hipersons at 9:35 AM on May 25, 2010

i can't comment on that particular airport, but i spent a very comfortable night in a camping hammock this christmas at o'hare. i set it up from column to seats in a gate that did not have overnight traffic. at one point a security guard checked on me, and i explained that my flight had been canceled. he checked with his supervisor and said it was fine for me to have the hammock up there. i will never travel without it again. mine is an eagle's nest outfitters doublenest, and compresses to about the size of a cantalope. smaller/ lighter versions are available.
posted by dontmesswithseth at 5:45 PM on May 26, 2010

Response by poster: I ended up staying at a hotel 200 meters away from the airport for ~64 euros. There are hardly any seats to lie across outside of the security zone in Hamburg; because I did not have a boarding pass for my flight in the morning (and I needed to collect my luggage), I had to leave the security zone. Also, being able to take a shower make the expense worth it, even if I only got 4.5 hours of sleep.
posted by Peter Petridish at 11:30 AM on May 29, 2010

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