Ever since a 17-hour layover in Bangladesh left me counting the passing seconds and trying to befriend the cockroaches that scuttled across the floor in my sleepless delirium, I’ve been more cognizant of the airports I pass through and what they have to offer a sleepy, stuck traveler. Particularly if you’re on a budget and buying the cheapest flights you can find, at times a long layover may be unavoidable. But, if I had known what 17 hours in the transfer area at Dhaka’s Shahjalal International would be like, I probably would have spent that extra 200 baht for a different flight path.
Here is a growing list of airports I’ve been through and their suitability (or lack thereof) for extended stays.
Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia (DPS)– I had a choice between sleeping at this airport the night before my flight or spending another $20 or so to stay in Kuta and get a ride to the airport early in the morning. When the shuttle pulled up to Ngurah Rai International to drop the folks who would indeed stay at the airport, I decided to join them. The international terminal is the newer portion of DPS. It’s shiny and clean and has great wifi. There’s a beautiful outdoor area where you can hang out and watch the colors change in the sky at sunset. And when the bars and restaurants inside close at the end of the night, you can take over the multitude of comfortable couches left unoccupied and get some very nice rest.
Incheon, S. Korea (ICN)– I purposely bought a flight with a 14-hour layover here after looking up this airport, ranked the best in the world for 11 straight years. I had planned to take advantage of one of the free tours of Seoul that Incheon offers to passengers with layovers (they offer long and short tours, depending on how many hours you have between flights), but when I landed it was snowing and I was in sandals. I settled for sleeping in the rest area, a dim room where there were rows of reclined chairs. They also have free showers and massage chairs. And if you want a real massage, you can pay for one in the airport spa. There’s also a cultural center where you can learn a bit about traditional Korean culture and make some arts and crafts. Best layover ever.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (KUL)– I was only here for about an hour, but this is another good airport. It’s clean and carpeted with good wifi, plenty of charging stations, and spots to chill out or get some sleep.