Many of us, and especially students, are very familiar with airports: the long queues, security checks, tearful goodbyes and the excited feeling of going on holiday, the chatter between reunited relatives and announcements over the Tannoy. But would we sleep there? I have been sent to Melilla, a beautifully multicultural Spanish enclave in North Africa. Its one sticking point: it is an absolute nightmare to get to! A cheap airline flight took me from Glasgow to Barcelona, from Barcelona to Palma Mallorca, from Palma Mallorca to Malaga and from Malaga to Melilla. Not the most sensible of routes, but what this journey taught me is that sleeping in airports is actually not so bad.
My mother, of course, was terrified at the prospect. Warnings of kidnappings, my belongings running off with a Spaniard and fainting from lack of sleep were some of her worries. My father just shook his head in disbelief. ‘How much is the nearest hotel?’ he asked. It was two days before my departure and he spat out his coffee at the price, and reluctantly sided with me.
Three flights and a substantial amount of online research later, there I was, sleeping bag in hand, armed to spend the night in the airport. I looked around the airport hoping to find a suitable place to sleep. I looked first on the arrivals floor where I was told it would be quieter, but the constant opening and closing of the automatic doors drove me insane. Then I tried my luck with some of the seats in the lounge area but they were no good because they all had armrests. Next came the floor in a quiet corner, but yuck! It was far too dirty to sleep on and I sneezed as dust crept into my nose.
Eventually I made my way behind a fast food restaurant where large window ledges overlooked the runway. Ah, finally! With light air conditioning and pillars to shadow my eyes, I unrolled my sleeping bag, hugged my carry-on luggage, and prepared for a blissful night’s sleep. My lullaby was the snoring of a homeless man and the every-half-hour-announcement not to leave your baggage unattended. My parents and the security guards thought I was crazy. What about you?