Sleeping in Airports

Sleeping in New York JFK Airport

Sleeping in JFK Airport
Photo by / 07Jun2012

Whether your situation calls for a short nap or an overnight slumber, this sleep guide will give you the essential information needed to prepare you for sleeping in New York JFK Airport.

Our guide is updated with the help of airport sleepers who tell us about their experiences at New York JFK Airport. If you have a tip to share, write a review to help us keep this sleep guide up-to-date.

Read the latest traveller reviews.

Sleeping in New York JFK Airport

Locations & Seating

Sleeping in JFK Airport
Terminal 1, Landside. Photo by / 07Jun2012

New York JFK Airport is notorious for its crowds and lack of decent seating – which add up to a not-so-comfortable sleeping situation. You’ll mostly find cold, hard metal benches with armrests, if you can grab a seat at all. Overnight campers should be prepared to spread out on the cold concrete floor, so a travel mat, blanket, or sleeping bag are must-haves for some cushion and warmth. Do note that some Security checkpoints close overnight, so you may not be able to access secure areas until 3 hours or so before your flight.

Here are good sleep spots that travellers have reported:

  • Terminal 1 – Try snagging a few chairs or a table in the food court and push them together for a makeshift bed.
  • Terminal 2 – There is carpeted flooring upstairs from the café and eateries.
  • Terminal 4 – Near the Norwegian Air check-in counters, there is a metal mesh bench has a couple dividers, making the middle section a decent 5-feet long for stretching out.
  • Terminal 5 – Cat nap for up to 20 minutes in the two sleep pods, that is, if you’re lucky enough to snag one.
  • Terminal 7 – The terminal has a good amount of tall, high-back chairs – more comfortable seating than most of the airport, even if you can’t totally sleep in them.
  • Terminal 8 – As you exit the AirTrain, there are 2 steel banks that provide some privacy for a few people willing to spread out on the floor. It’s a little quieter thanks to its out-of-the-way location.

Rest Zones

There are no designated rest zones within the airport.


Travellers report cold temperatures all year round, so dress in layers and bring a blanket for a chance at decent sleep.  Arrive prepared with a blanket or even a sleeping bag. A hoodie and a pair of gloves provides extra warmth if the terminal gets even colder.  


The lights seem to stay on and brightly lit all day and all night.  Come prepared with eyeshades or something else to cover your eyes, such as a shirt or towel.


No matter the time of day or night, noise is definitely a major factor here. Depending on your location within the terminal, cleaning crews can be loud. Come prepared with earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones – though beware: one traveller reported that his noise-cancelling headphones were no match for the noise levels here!

Weather Delays

New York JFK Airport sees more than its fair share of flight cancellations due to bad weather (summer hurricanes and thunderstorms and winter snowstorms), but this means they are more prepared than other airports. When mass cancellations happen at New York JFK Airport, cots are available for stranded passengers who opt against getting a hotel room. To find them, ask an airline or airport employee or use a courtesy phone to reach someone who has access to this information.

Please note that these cots cannot be reserved in advance and they are not available except for mass cancellations. That means you cannot access them simply because you chose to stay the night in the airport instead of getting a hotel room.


Freshen up (and loosen those stiff muscles) with a shower before your flight. Shower facilities are available inside the following pay-to-use lounges: the Air France Lounge, the KAL Business Class Lounge, and the Swiss Business Class Lounge (currently closed for renovations). See our New York JFK Airport Guide for locations and entry details.

Food & Drink

When you get the midnight munchies or give up trying to sleep and need a coffee to stay awake, 24-hour food concessions are available. Check out these vendors: Dunkin Donuts (located inside Security in Terminal 1), McDonald’s (located pre-Security in Terminal 4) and Central Diner (located pre-security, Terminal 4, Arrivals Hall). Otherwise, stock up in advance or keep your eyes peeled for vending machines.


jfk airport hotelsPrefer the privacy and comfort that only a hotel room can provide? There are several hotel options both at and near the airport.  At Terminal 5, you’ll find sleep pods (Airside) and the TWA Hotel (Landside).  Free hotel shuttles can get to many hotels within a 5-10 minute drive. See the hotel section in our Airport Guide for locations or visit Tripadvisor to find hotels deals at JFK Airport.


jfk airport loungesWhile JFK Airport has many lounges, none have designated sleep rooms or rest areas. If you just want to relax in a comfortable seat, check out this list of lounges in our New York JFK Airport Guide that you can pay to access.

Buy a Lounge Pass

Security & Safety

Airport staff seem to have no problem with sleeping travellers. In general the security guards seem to do a good job at preventing non-travellers from hanging out in the pre-Secure areas, but the occasional homeless person may wander the terminal, especially on cold evenings.

At the time of this update, we have no reports from travellers commenting on safety issues at New York JFK Airport. As a precaution, here are a few tips to ensure you have a safe airport sleeping experience:

  • Know Where Security is Located. Whether you are sleeping in the airport alone or with friends, it is good to know where security is. Know where their office is located and look for video cameras where you decide to stay the night. Ask security where it is safe to spend the night. They’ve probably seen many airport sleepers before you, and they will direct you to a safe spot.
  • Don’t Seclude Yourself. If you are travelling alone, we recommend that you sleep near other travellers or close to security.
  • Hide Your Valuables. Don’t leave all your mobile devices out in plain view. We have received reports from people who woke up with only earphones and a laptop bag strap, but without the iPods or laptops that were attached. The same goes for important documents and money. Keep these secure on your body so no one can get them without waking you up.
  • Secure Your Bags. If you are a deep sleeper, you may want to padlock your bag to something. If your bags have zippers turn the bag upside down (zippers to the floor) or sleep with your bag up against the wall so that it would be hard for someone to access it.
  • Choose to Stay Alert. If you don’t feel safe, drink coffee, stay alert, and stay awake. You can always sleep on the plane!

Pro-tip: If you are sleeping in the public zone, don’t be surprised if you receive an early morning wake-up call. Security is known to make the rounds waking people up as travellers begin to arrive for morning flights.

JFK Airport Photo Gallery

Write a Review

To help us keep this page up-to-date for future airport sleepers, tell us about your experience sleeping in New York City JFK Airport in the form below.