My column for CNBC this week is a round-up of options for finding a place outside airport lounges to sleep, have a quiet conversation or just have a little quiet time to yourself.
Business travelers once looked to airline club rooms as calm oases offering quiet areas to relax, work, conduct important phone calls or, perhaps, catch a nap.
But now it’s not unusual for airline-operated and independent lounges to be as crowded and noisy as the congested airport terminals and gate hold areas many frequent travelers are willing to pay a fee to avoid.
Alternatives exist. Sort of.
Outside the United States, travelers seeking alone time might check into one of the Napcabs equipped with beds, worktables, touch screens, WiFi and baggage storage inside Germany’s Munich or Berlin-Tegel Airports.
Elsewhere, Yotel offers cozy, cabin-like hotel rooms equipped with futon-like beds, WIFI, flat screen TVS and bathrooms inside airport terminals in Amsterdam, London (Heathrow and Gatwick), Paris CDG and, soon, Istanbul and Singapore.
In the United States, travelers seeking sleep, a place to work or a quiet place to have a phone conversation have an increasing range of options.
Downtime at Dulles?
Boston-based Sleepbox plans to cut the ribbon on a post-security micro-hotel on Concourse A at Dulles International Airport next week.
The 16 stand-alone modules have no bathrooms, but are soundproof spaces with mood lighting, WIFI, Bluetooth capability, fold-down work tables, space for storing luggage and beds with memory foam mattresses. Bookings are made via the same smart phone app that allows guests to unlock their room and control features such as the temperature and mood lighting in their unit
Pricing: Average hourly rate for compact rooms (about 30 square feet) is $25 per hour. Standard rooms (45 square feet): $35 per hour. After the first hour, additional 15-minute increments are $5 for the compact room, $7.50 for the standard-room. Rates top out at $120 for a 12-hour stay in a compact room and $140 for 12-hours in a standard room.
Room to relax
Minute Suites is a short-stay hotel chain with six post-security locations in four airports: two in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (Concourses B&T); two in Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (Terminals A&D), one in the Charlotte Douglas International Airport atrium and one in the A/B Connector at Philadelphia International Airport.
The basic 56-square-foot suites have sofa daybeds with a pull-out trundle beds, sound-masking systems, HDTVs (with DirectTV and Netflix) that can also be used as computers, WIFI, and desks. A few suites in the DFW location are larger.
The company is adding four additional locations in ATL airport, a second location in Charlotte and has just announced Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI) as its next city. Plans to open branches in four additional airports are being finalized now.
An uptick in the number of millennial travelers is helping drive Minute Suites’ expansion.
A recent Hipmunk travel survey found that more than half of all millennials (54.4 percent) would like airports to offer nap rooms
“The second most requested amenity was board games,” said Minute Suites co-founder and CEO Daniel Solomon, “And we have now added board games and other desired services such as exercise cycles and yoga mats to our locations.”
Rates for Minutes Suites start at $42 per hour and drop to $32 per hour after two hours. The overnight rate (8 hours) is a flat $155. Showers (available in DFW Terminal D) and Charlotte Douglas International Airport are $20, with suite rental; $30 without.
Want to be alone? Step into a Jabbrrbox
Phone-booth sized workspaces from Jabbrrbox, offering travelers private, quiet places to work and make phone calls, are available at New York’s LaGuardia Airport Terminal B, Pittsburgh International Airport (Concourse B and C) and on Concourse B at Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG).
Two new booths were installed in New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport Terminal 4 this week.
Users make reservations using touchscreens on the exterior of each unit and, once inside, will find WIFI, a desk, chair, power panel and another, larger, touchscreen that is used to control the color and brightness of the booth lights, track flight status and take photos.
Jabbrrbox pricing is $10 for 15 minutes, $15 for 30 minutes, $30 for an hour and $60 for two hours.
Work, stand, stretch
Business travelers who need to work but who also want to stretch their legs before or between flights can do both at the complimentary Varidesk co-working space at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
Opened in December and located in Terminal C, the staffed workspace has about two dozen height-adjustable standing desks, 75 charging ports and a conference room with moveable walls.
Varidesk chief marketing officer, Sean Scogin, says the company plans to open co-working spaces at other airports soon and may add its new state-of-the-art phone booth to the mix.
Have you found a good way to get out of the fray when you’re stuck at the airport? Share a tip below.