Minute Suites

4 ways to sleep, work or be alone when you’re stuck at the airport.

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.

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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.

More airport pods for nursing moms

mamava at NY Airports

Nursing pods land at JFK’s JetBlue T5. Courtesy Mamava

Breastfeeding moms on the move have some new options for nursing their baby or pumping milk at JFK International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, Newark-Liberty International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport.

In the New York area, Mamava nursing pods (seen above) are now located at JFK in JetBlue T5 (Gate 12), at Newark’ Terminal B (near Gate 60) and at LaGuardia Terminal B (Concourse A).

At the Philadelphia International Airport, breastfeeding moms will also now get 30-minutes of free access to the private rooms at Minute Suites, the micro-hotel located inside the airport between Terminals A & B, reports Philly.com. After the first 30 minutes, the charge will be $14 for an additional half hour.

For more on the trend of airports offering spaces for breastfeeding moms, see my column on USA TODAY

Minute Suites expands into DFW airport

Minute Suites

When you’re stuck at the airport sometimes you simply need a place to nap, work, rest or just be alone.

At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Philadelphia International Airport and, now at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, the folks at Minute Suites provide one option.

In each airport, travelers can pay $34 for the first hour in a private roomette with a daybed sofa, pillows, blankets, “noise neutralizing” systems and a “napware” audio program designed to help travelers get a power nap.Each suite also has a TV, work desk and internet access.

At the first of two planned DFW Minute Suite locations, which opened last week in Terminal D near Gate D23, travelers can also take showers – for $15 – with a suite rental – or $30, without.

Nice touch, Minute Suites. Now we just need to these in more airports. And maybe some happy hour-type pricing.

Free Wi-Fi at Cleveland Airport and new napping suites at Atlanta Airport

Cleveland Rocks!

Kudos to the Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport  (CLE) and the non-profit group OneCommunity for working together to bring permanent free Wi-Fi to the airport.

Cleveland Airport joins many other smart airports that offer travelers free Wi-Fi year round.  And, lest you forget, from now through January 15, 2010, Google is covering the Wi-Fi fees at a 47 airports, from Seattle to Miami.  Here’s a full list of the participating airports . Let’s hope those airports continue offering the service for free after that.

Nap Time at ATL

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You can now make a reservation at the first Minute Suites, at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL). These “suites”, located inside the terminal on the B Concourse have daybeds, pillows and blankets, sound masking systems, and a “napware” audio program.  Each suite also has a a TV, desk, phone, and a computer.   How much will you pay to snooze in a “suite”?  The minimum reservation accepted is 1 hour and costs $30. After that it’s $7.50 each 15 minutes.

If you try this out, please let us know what you think!