Tips if you are Trapped in an Airport

written on July 11th, 2016 by

If you’ve seen the 2004 film “The Terminal” starring Tom Hanks, you would have gotten a glimpse of what it was like living in an airport. Like literally, spending days months years inside an airport.

The comedy-drama, follows Tom Hank’s character, a foreign national who suddenly finds himself unable to leave the terminal due to his visa being denied because his home country was at civil war. With their government no longer functioning, this made his papers invalid, and himself a stateless person. Giving the American authorities the right to suspend his entry onto American soil, until everything sorted out.

In the meantime, we see our protagonist trying to survive, with little english comprehension and no money (his banknotes were no longer good for trade). The light-hearted approach of the film showed the struggle, possibilities, and triumphs with much entertainment.

It happens, stuff happens

But this work of fiction was actually loosely based on true events. The film is partially inspired by the 18-year stay of Mehran Karimi Nasseri, an Iranian who practically lived in Terminal 1 of Charles de Gaulle International Airport, Paris, France, from 1988 to 2006. He was an exile on his way to UK when his papers got lost or stolen en route to Paris.

Imagine having to live 18 years in the terminal. Apparently this predicament is not all too uncommon.

How to live in an airport?

The long delays, and layovers can be taxing on a weary traveller. Yet we can take some practical tips from the film plus some ingenuity to survive if you find yourself stuck at the airport (hopefully not in extreme situations such as the cases mentioned earlier).

Back to basics. your main concerns will be a place to rest, food, personal hygiene, your belongings, and security.

Practical Tips:

  • It’s always a good idea to have packed food and water (when possible). Sometimes you get stuck during odd hours. Even if you have cash to spare there might not be a store open for you to buy food. On the same note, see if the airport has vending machines.
  • More often than not, airports have drinking fountains. Best to locate them and fill up, keep yourself hydrated.
  • In cases of delays of more than 3 hours, you can check with your airline. They usually have policies concerning compensations such as providing meals or snacks.
  • If however you’re having a long layover and in dire need of rest. Best to stake out your waiting lounge and claim your spot. If you are in need of shut eye, make sure that your belongings are close and somehow connected (tied down or under you).
  • A unique tip I learned was if you want to really sleep, get a massage. Some airports have a special airport spa / massage parlour. You actually have an excuse to sleep for an hour or so. They even have showers where you can wash the day away.
  • Some airports do have shower stalls, some offer it for a fee. Ask around.
  • Long layovers, and delays are reasons why it’s best to pack a change of clothes, and travel kit for personal hygiene.
  • Lastly, be updated with announcements and verify information with airport staff and your airline. If you can inform your family and friends about your whereabouts, the better.

Know your rights as a passenger, never hesitate to ask and verify and constantly update yourself with the staff. Forewarned is forearmed. Travelling has its downside, but if you can plan