By John W Jackson Jr, USAF Ret.
When traveling to Space A locations it’s always nice to have hotel reservations ahead of time. It is one less thing to have to worry about. Of course, things don’t always go as planned and sometimes you have to make last minute sleeping arrangements. Or you are forced to find someplace to wait for long hours or even overnight. It’s not so bad if you are traveling alone or maybe just you and your spouse, but when children and/or the elderly are involved, it can get complicated.
Here are some of the places that Space A travelers wait and/or sleep while waiting for a flight. This is not a complete list to include all possibilities because people can be very inventive when they need to be. So in lieu of having a comfy bed in a nice lodging facility, whether by necessity or by choice, here are a few of the things Space A travelers can do.
The Path of Least Resistance
If you’re lucky, you will have family or a friend that lives in the local area that you can stay with. Sometimes people even plan their Space A trips, as much as they can, around this situation. It really could pay, (or rather save you some money) to have a lot of friends at a time like this.
Making Friends at Space A Locations
Since Space A travelers are really one big family, sometimes a fellow traveler with lodging reservations will offer to share their lodging with you, just splitting the cost. Even if the reservation is a one bedroom, often there are sleeper sofas or even just sofas and chairs available. Sleeping on the floor is also an option in most cases. This is a win-win situation for both parties and you might even make a life-long friend in the process.
At some Space A locations if the terminals are open 24/7, you can stay in the terminal. You can sleep in the terminals, but you are not allowed to lie down. If you’re lucky there is a nice USO in the terminal (or near by) where you are allowed to sleep. Some USO’s even have beds. The people that sleep in the uncomfortable chairs in the terminals have mastered ways to make it more comfortable for themselves. While not a preferred option for sleeping, an option nonetheless.
If the terminal is not open 24/7, most likely they are only closed for 8 hours. Some people just hang outside of the terminal and pass the time until it opens again. Sleeping on concrete is not so bad when you are tired, but a blanket and pillow help. Of course, the terminal may open for awhile before that 8 hours if they have a flight coming in with Space A possibilities. They will open the terminal to everyone while they process any passengers. Those times, however brief, can be taken advantage of. After processing, if it’s not the normal hours to open the terminal, they close again. In some cases, if another flight is coming in soon or it’s ‘almost’ time to open for the day anyway, they may decide to just stay open.
A Bit More Comfy
Some people choose to sleep in their rental cars. This works best if either the rental car agency is within the terminal area, close to the terminal or has a drop box in the terminal. If none of these conditions are met, then it would be risky waiting to turn in your rental until after you get a flight. That’s because you may not have time to turn it in. The flight could be leaving right away or something could delay you in returning the car. They can also move the flight time up while you are gone.
Open 24 Hours
Some Space A travelers will look for places that are open 24 hours such as a restaurant or bowling alley and just stay there until the terminal opens back up. As an adult, you probably won’t get much sleep doing this, but at least you’ll be out of the elements. This option can get pricey if you have to order food to keep your table. You could order once and then drink a lot of coffee after that. If you’re not causing trouble or if they are not busy, they most likely will let you stay.
Another possibility is that at some Space A locations the billeting office will let you hang around in their lobby until midnight in case someone doesn’t show up for their reservation. They would then offer the room to you.
The last possibility I will mention is that you can “hang out” in the lobby of one of the billeting buildings. Usually, there are chairs and maybe a sofa, plus they sometimes have vending machines. Of course, there is no laying down on the floor or across furniture, but, again, it’s out of the elements. It’s after hours so the cleaning staff has gone home and probably the main office is in another building. Most likely no one would bother you. Be sure to have an alarm clock and a ride back to the terminal, in cases of early flights.
This should give you an idea of how innovative some travelers can be when lodging plans don’t go as planned or when they just want to save a little bit of money. Can you think of other ways that people may sleep/wait while the terminal is closed? Maybe you have done some of these yourself. I’d love to see your comments below.
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Author: John W Jackson Jr. retired from the Air Force in 1993. He’s been married to a Filipina for just over 37 years. They have a son and four grandsons. They’ve lived in the Philippines for the past seven years but frequently make visits back to Texas. John is an avid NFL fan and his favorite team is the Dallas Cowboys. He likes John Wayne, Hank Williams Jr, listening to older country music and a nice steak (medium well)! When he is not involved with the Empire Builder series games or playing dominoes, he offers sage advice on how to travel using Space A.