Sleeping in Airports

Sleeping in Washington Dulles Airport

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 Washington Dulles Airport.

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

This guide was last updated: 8 August 2018. Read the latest traveller reviews.

Sleeping inside Washington Dulles Airport

Washington Dulles Airport cots
(Photo courtesy of Kari from our Facebook page)

While Washington Dulles Airport is technically open 24-hours, the Security checkpoints do close for the evening, around 10:00 PM. If you arrive after the checkpoints are closed, you’ll have to stay the night in the public, pre-Security areas until checkpoints open around 4:00 AM.

Locations & Seating

If you’re lucky enough to sleep inside Security, especially overnight, you’ll want to head to Concourses C and D for the most armrest-free seating plus plenty of unused and unmanned gates, which offer some quiet. If you’re stuck in the pre-Security area, all seats do have armrests, so you may be better off spreading out on the floor, as long as you packed extra layers and a sleep mat or sleeping bag.

Here are good sleep spots that travellers have reported:

  • Gates C20 and D1 are quiet at night.
  • Try accessing the seats and benches inside cafes that closed for the night.
Rest Zones

At the time of this update, there are no designated rest zones within the airport.

Temperature

Dress for cold temperatures inside the airport, particularly if you’re spending the night.  Arrive prepared with a blanket or even a sleeping bag. A hoodie provides extra warmth if the terminal gets even colder.

Lighting

At the time of this update, we have not received reports from travellers related to terminal brightness.  Come prepared with eyeshades or something else to cover your eyes, such as a shirt or towel.

Noise

During the day, expect the usual airport noise – announcements, music and TV, chatting travellers. At night, it can be very quiet, especially if you’re near an unused gate or in a corner with other sleepers. Still, plan ahead and bring earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones.

Showers

Freshen up (and loosen those stiff muscles) with a shower before your flight. Shower facilities are located in the pay-to-enter Air France-KLM and British Airways Lounges. See our Washington Dulles Airport Guide for 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:
Pre-Security: Cafe Americana, Capitol Grounds, Dulles Gourmet Market, Starbucks, and Washingtonian News
Inside Security: Washingtonian News (Gate B38), Capitol City Ink (Gate C14), Bistro Atelier Grab and Go (Gate D14), Dulles Gourmet Market (Gate D5), Dunkin Donuts (2 locations: Gate D5 and Z Gates Arrival), and NBC Travel Store (Gate D1).

Security & Safety

Airport staff seem to have no issue with overnight campers, particularly inside Secure areas.

At the time of this update, we have no reports from travellers commenting on safety issues at Washington Dulles 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 by yourself or with friends, it is good to know where security is. Know where their office is located and look for video cameras in the spot 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. If you are sleeping in the public zone, make sure they are actual travellers and not homeless people – it is sometimes hard to tell in certain airports.
  • Hide Your Valuables. Don’t leave all your mobile devices out in plain view. We have received reports from people who woke up with earphones and no ipod and a laptop bag strap and no laptop bag (or laptop). Same goes with important documents and money. Keep these secure on your body, so that 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.
  • Choose to Stay Alert. If you don’t feel safe, drink coffee and stay awake and be alert. 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.

Lounges

While Washington Dulles Airport has several 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 Washington Dulles Airport Guide that you can pay to access.

Hotels

If you prefer the privacy and comfort of a hotel room between flights, you’ll have to leave the airport altogether. Several hotels are located within a 12-minute drive of the airport, and airport shuttle service is available. See our Washington Dulles Airport Guide for locations and details.

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