Exactly Where to Work in the World's Busiest Airports
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Depending on circumstances, the business travelers amongst us will have to log some work hours while at some of the world’s busiest airports. This article reveals the hidden nooks, crannies and boltholes you can rely on to get your work done while on the move.
There are two parts to productivity at an airport. The first is having a general strategic sense of places that will have good working environments. The second is being someone who knows exactly where to go. You’re about to join that club.
Even in the world’s busiest airports, you’ll be able to sniff out an empty gate area. The electronic board above the gate will show the time of the next flight, so seek out a gate that gives you the window of opportunity you need. It’s rare to find a completely deserted gate, but you’ll be able to find one quiet enough to be able to hear – and be heard – on a conference call.
At Singapore Changi airport, there are always two seats at every gate that have a power outlet beside it. The rest don’t come with power outlets. The trick is to get to your gate early (assuming you don’t have lounge access) and grab one of these two seats to get your work done without having to worry about a drained battery.
- Bino Chua, travel blogger, I Wander
For longer layovers, most airports have connected hotels, often with a shuttle service to and from the airport. The benefit of hotels is that they have dedicated quiet places like lobbies and business centers – often with free coffee – where you can put aside your carry-on luggage, recharge your phone and make and take calls.
I fly through Atlanta a lot – and as the world’s busiest airport, it can feel impossible to find peace and quiet. I head to Concourse E, the international terminal, which has huge gate areas and far fewer flights going in and out throughout the day. It’s quiet and spacious and there’s always seating, open outlets for charging, and space to work, sleep, or simply sit and relax. There’s also a chapel and a Delta Sky club in E.
Then there are some great tucked-away corners around rental car desks and elevators. I also recommend looking for a chapel or meditation room. These aren’t necessarily awesome spots to pull out your laptop, but they do provide a quiet place to destress between flights. I like to bring my headphones and use a meditation app like Headspace. I also like to stop at the XpresSpa stations – I can work while sitting in a massage chair and getting my toes done. From a safety standpoint, all of these spots are easy places to keep track of your belongings!
- Emily Long, safety expert and frequent flyer with Safewise
At Concourse B, go upstairs to the upper deck where the restaurants are. There are some chairs with power outlets but also a nice cafe area outside of the Lounge 5280 where you can people watch and get work done. Denver airport also has the fastest airport WiFi in the USA according to a recent study, almost 80Mbps. Southwest Airlines has redone Concourse C to be awesome over the past few years. There are numerous lounge chairs with individual power outlets by most of the gates. I prefer to work in the chair near the gate looking out the window.
- Nick Vergunst, who flies 100+ times a year
I enjoy grabbing a stool along the perimeter of the Mugg & Bean coffee shop and plugging in. After a long flight (typical when I land there), I find it’s a decent place to unwind, reboot and catch up – without spending a fortune on a decent cup of coffee.
- Daniel Noll, travel blogger at uncorneredmarket.com
After finding myself stranded in airports many times, I started to look for solutions to spend my time wisely. Instead of spending money on things I don’t need at the duty-free or airport shopping areas; I have been taking advantage of cool solutions like the Napcabs at Munich International airport. Once you pay for the time you want to use them, you get four square meters for yourself. They are clean, safe and come with an individual bed to rest plus a small desk to work at. What’s not to love?
- Inma Gregorio, travel blogger, aworldtotravel.com
In Detroit airport, if you’re flying on Delta or one of their partners, you’ll pass through the McNamara Terminal (other airlines use the North Terminal.) There is a train that runs from one end of the concourse to the other, with a large station in the center and two smaller ones toward each end. The smaller stations are the perfect spot to get some work done away from the crowds. Though there is no seating, there is plenty of quiet space in the corners where you’re out of the way.
In Dallas, Terminal D has a great sea of chairs that are arranged at odd angles and feature small side tables in between with lots of plugs available. I love the area because it’s nice and spacious and has some cool artwork nearby along with lots of good food options.
- Kris Morton, travel blogger, nomadbytrade.com
At Baltimore Washington International there is a small gym called Roam Fitness in terminal D that is a perfect quiet spot for thinking and de-stressing it. I use it after particularly brutal travel days and on early morning flights. You can also take calls in their beautiful spa-like bathrooms in a pinch!
- Kristina Libby, CEO of SoCu, an influencer marketing laboratory
At Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, all C Gates have tables you can sit at. They don’t belong to any food establishment, so you can sit there all you want. Or you can sit at a place like El Centro or Lebanese Taverna. Personally, I prefer bar seating so I don’t take up a whole table. At Dallas International, there are specially designated areas throughout the airport. You can even find seating by escalators to the Skylink airport shuttle. Nobody ever site down there, because people just want to keep moving. Then at Jacksonville airport – or any recently built one – there are seats with outlets and they are turned away for privacy, which is actually a great concept.
Experienced air travelers know that this can be hit and miss. Lounges are often very busy – particularly when flying within the US – so it can be difficult to find a quiet spot to work in a facility designed exactly for that. That said, if you pick a lounge on a quiet day, then you’ll feel like a VIP.
I go to airport lounges where I can find a quiet place to work, comfortable chairs/workstations, free WiFi, food, drinks and a clean bathroom. If you get the right credit cards you can get in for free. One of the many cards I carry is the Amex Platinum because it gets me into Delta Air Lines lounges, the Priority Pass Lounges (you need to call Amex and ask them to send you your Priority Pass card) and of course the Centurion lounges which are the best lounges in the U.S. If you don’t travel often then don’t bother since it has a high annual fee, but if you do travel often then it’s a must.
- Johnny Jet, travel expert at johnnyjet.com
What I like about the Minute Suites in Atlanta is that while you can get work done, it is also conducive for taking a break as well. But it also offers separate and private workstations, and I can keep track of my upcoming flight. The TVs in the suites have the capability to automatically convert to a computer screen with Internet access. It serves as a quiet place to do whatever I need to get done, in essence. Then what I like about The Admiral’s Club is that it’s great if you have a long layover there, as the pricing is $50 flat for a day’s usage. Plus, as well as access to printers and fax machines. If offers free beverages, and you can buy things like newspapers and snacks. And it also does a good job of blocking out the noise coming from the general airport itself.
- Andrew Schrage, moneycrashers.com
I fly over 100,00 miles a year and have become accustomed to working in airports. Pro tip: the Delta Sky Club. In every airport, at all times of day, there are dedicated quiet spaces in which to work; reliable WiFi signals that reach to all corners; and small rooms with doors, when needed. They’ve also got well-equipped showers, which is handy between overnight flights and early-morning meetings.
- Dan Green, founder of financial destination website Growella
I’d say the lounge in Bogota (Avancia Sala VIP, Terminal 1) is quite good as it has a lot of different facilities (i.e. showers, child area, good food selection, etc.) and all of them are really well placed so that they don’t intervene with each other – e.g. you won’t hear the children in the working area, as well as the acoustics work well, so you can have a meeting in the main area, but without much background noise (if you’re wearing a headset, of course). Or, the Air France Lounge at Boston Logan International airport – really great food and good amenities. I could even have a short nap there. Working was great too, the noise is really kept low.
- Pamela Wagner, paid ads specialist
Flight delays happen, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept them. You may be entitled to as much as $680 in compensation if your flight was delayed, canceled or overbooked within the last three years.
Pick up tips, tricks and good vibes from fellow travelers.