Many describe the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) as one of those extremely busy international hubs with passengers finding it the slowest to get in, as well as the slowest to get out. With the high probability of a delayed flight, missed connection, and unplanned layover, along with the idea of facing the dreaded rush-hour traffic in the Los Angeles area, this airport may readily lead you to the practical decision of staying overnight, especially if you have an early flight scheduled the next day.
This may not sound fun, but in case you’re left with no other good choice, especially if you’re travel budget is pretty tight to even consider a few hours of hotel stay, you can still make an overnight inside LAX bearable.
Connecting flights with more than five-hour layover times, arrivals by late night or the wee hours of the morning, and very early departure times are not uncommon in LAX. And so, there is basically a 24-hour presence inside the airport.
Sometimes, if you’re arriving at the airport late in the evening and you’re travel document says you have a very early flight in a few hours, this may readily force you to stay within the airport premises to be safe. Of course, you must factor in the need to exit your prior terminal to walk or take the airport shuttle to your next terminal, the demand to go through security over again before getting to your gate and the requirement to reach the check-in counter and boarding gate well over an hour in advance for international flights. In such cases, staying inside the airport overnight may just be your best and most practical option.
Sleep and Rest Space
Finding a convenient space for the night can be quite a challenge for anyone unfamiliar with the terminals around LAX. More often than not, the Tom Bradley International Terminal, LAX’s principal terminal, is your best bet for staying overnight.
Even if your next flight is in another terminal or gate, you may still want to forgo your actual terminal or gate for the night and find the most convenient space for sleep or rest. Just like with many other international terminals, there is always that greater risk of passengers getting stranded or encountering really long layover times. International terminals tend to not have those arm rests on the seats — making them ideal for stretching out and even possibly lying down.
As of this writing, the best sleeping spots at the Tom Bradley International Terminal are located on the second floor at both ends of the food court. In these places, it’s easy to find some long, padded seating areas, plastic chairs and carpeted floor spaces for an overnight stay.
Comfort and Security
It is always best to get to your intended spot early so you don’t run out of space. It is also worth noting that the summer season is the peak of airport sleeping season, which means serious competition for the most convenient sleep and rest areas around the airport. In case the best spaces are already filled up, a neck pillow would help, as you make do with a waiting chair for your airport sleep time.
If you’re a light sleeper, the sound of vacuuming around the airport at night may pose a problem. In such case, it is best to use an earphone with adequate sound isolation capability and a media player with your preferred bedtime music.
Ensure the security of your belongings and always make your boarding pass easily accessible, especially if someone from the airport tries to wake you up for a boarding pass check.
As an overnighter in a public place, it is very important to plan how you can keep your bags safe all the time. For a large bag, it is ideal to position it with zipper facing you, the ground or the wall. This way, gaining a stranger’s access to it would be more difficult and potentially noisy. You may also consider sleeping with one arm or leg over the top of your bag. Chaining your bag to yourself or your seat can also add more security. In so doing, you can find more time to sleep with a bit more peace of mind.