Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

Travel

Keflavík Airport tests new approach to travellers who overnight in terminal: Let them sleep

By Staff

  • The main terminal hall In the early morning hours many benches in the main terminal hall are occupied by sleeping travellers. The airport prefers this to having them sleep with their luggage in the departure hall. Photo/Isavia

Passengers passing through Keflavík terminal in the early hours are often greeted with large numbers of travellers sleeping on benches and flat surfaces in the terminal area. Benches at cafés and restaurants have even been occupied by sleeping travellers. The reason is a new airport policy which allows people who have early morning departures to check in before midnight. This policy was introduced to clamp down on travellers sleeping on the floor of the departure hall.

Problems with sleeping travellers
Until this spring check-in for morning flights from Keflavík Airport could not be completed before midnight. Travellers who arrived the night before their early morning flights were therefore forced to wait for check-in to open in the departure hall. Some in these large crowds of waiting travellers would then lie down among their luggage to catch some sleep or at least a nap while waiting.

Read more: Worst camping spot in Iceland? Airport staff evicts travellers camped behind Keflavík terminal

According to the local newspaper Morgunblaðið the situation in the departure hall could become so bad that staff and other travellers at the terminal had trouble navigating around sleeping travellers and their belongings. 

An attempt to offer travellers better service
To address this situation the airport and the Icelandic airlines introduced a new policy which allows passengers to check-in before midnight. A spokesman for the airport told Morgunblaðið that allowing people to enter the terminal has led to an immediate and drastic improvement. While some feel that the "problem" has only been shifted, as the airport is often still full of sleeping people, the airport is happy with the change. People who nap on the benches inside the terminal are not impeding the flow of traffic through the airport in the same way as throngs of people sleeping among their luggage in the departure hall:

"The idea was that by allowing people to check in their bags, and go upstairs into the airport to relax, rather than forcing people to wait with their luggage in the departure hall."

While the airport has a policy of not bothering people who fall asleep or nap on benches, unless they are causing some sort of disturbance, security concern or if other passengers complain, restaurants and cafés have their own policies when it comes to sleeping passengers. 

Future of policy yet to be determined
So far the airport is happy with the new policy, it's spokesman told Morgunblaðið, although its future has not yet been determined. For now, passengers will be allowed to nap on benches. However, but he pointed out that if sleeping passengers become a nuisance the airport might have to take action:

"If it gets to the point that people are lying all over, covering the floor like driftwood on a beach, I guess we might have to prod them and wake them up. It's really quite simple."

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