Flight delays. Or long layovers for connecting flights, usually involving flight delays. Not very glamorous and inevitable realities when travelling. There’s a lot of hustle and bustle and then you’re left a bit worse for wear in your gate area and having to kill however many hours.
(Click here for some flight delay survival tips for when things get fraught and chaotic at the airport.)
With energy levels incredibly low, I was recently walking to my gate area in London Heathrow’s Terminal 3. I needed food and a strong cup of tea, stat. And then I saw a sign that made me want to weep with gratitude: ‘The rest and relaxation room near Gate 24.’ Yes, please.
This was a happy discovery for me, as I had a few hours to while away before my connecting flight home – the third of three flights. I had just dealt with 24 hours of not being able to check into all of my flights to get myself back to Vancouver from Barcelona; being on hold and then frustrated when talking to the airline – 60 minutes of my life I will never get back; initially cursing what turned out to be the very smart decision of not sleeping before my 3:30 am Barcelona taxi pickup, and watching my taxi driver nearly get dismembered by another taxi whose driver was WRITING AND DRIVING as he was pulling into the airport taxi stand at a fair click (and then blaming my taxi driver for being in his way). Zurich Airport was a less chaotic experience, but that airport’s version of relaxing is a smoking room – of which they have at least two. No, thank you. (Although the idea of rolling out my mat to meditate amidst all the fancy watch and chocolate shops was tempting…)
But I digress. Back to Heathrow and me hot-footing it to Gate 24. The R&R room is decorated very much like the waiting room in a doctor’s office (if more brightly) but it was a sanctuary for me. Blessedly quiet with comfy couches, chairs and chaise lounges so you can lie back and put your feet up; outlets to charge your phone, a selection of books, and the all important flight info board. And most importantly, it’s free. So if you’re not an airline elite member with lounge access, or a day room is not in your budget, this is the place for you.
Everyone in that room is there for the same reason you are: peace and quiet. No keyboards clacking, phone calls or speaking loudly. (Except for the loud woman who didn’t quite understand the purpose of the room until she got shushed by those of us not impressed with her volume. Yes, we shushed her.) From what I remember, there aren’t any speakers the room, so if you do want a nap, make sure you set yourself an alarm for when you need to go to your gate!
I got cozy on a chaise lounge with my blanket scarf and spent an hour and a half with relaxing music on my headphones and a good book on my e-reader. I left that room feeling like a normal human being and I hadn’t even taken a nap. Not being on my phone or computer felt amazing.
As a usually solo traveller, my laptop and phone, or perhaps a book, tend to be my go-tos, which got me thinking about the Yoga Room in SFO Airport’s Terminal 2 (which was a much needed and amazing way to spend some time when I was there in January). And then about other ways that one can decompress and kill time before a flight – that don’t involve hunching over blue light electronics. Massage chairs (a nice #GetThrifty option and a great way to get rid of foreign coins!), mani-pedi, retail therapy. Enjoying a meal or a glass of wine while people watching – which is incredibly fun at the airport. If you’re with someone, conversation is a novel idea.
Google tells me that there are a few more airports with quiet rooms like Heathrow’s, as well as yoga rooms. Airports are always under some kind of update construction these days, so hopefully the amenities follow suit!
It’s a wi-fi signal world out there. How do you keep yourself occupied and at ease while in transit? Share your tips in the comments section!
Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.
~ Gustave Flaubert ~