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What else are you supposed to do before a 3am flight?

Air passenger traffic is expected to double over the next 20 years according to IATA, and its already up almost 64% since the global economic crisis of 2009. One thing thats not doubling: airport space – or comfort.

Airports are increasingly rammed to the rafters, and with cities facing similar growth demand, there’s just not much extra spac around to add new runways or terminals. That’s where luxury airport hotels are disrupting the game, in the best way possible. Once a dingy way of life for road warriors, airport hotels are getting downright fancy and may be the answer to your next awkward flight time…

How do you tap into increased demand without adding new runways? Fly more hours of the day. What happens when you fly more hours of the day? More passengers arrive and depart at wacky times. It’s not at all uncommon to depart some of the world’s best global hubs like Singapore or Hong Kong at 2AM, or New York or Los Angeles at 5:45AM. That’s awfully early, or late, to wake up and travel to the airport. So, what if you were already there?

The thought of booking an extra night, or venturing into town, especially in a foreign land at these awkward times has created a fractious relationship between travelers and new cities, to which plush airport hotels are answering the call, like the new TWA Hotel. Amongst the current best you’ll find the Fairmont Vancouver Airport, Crowne Plaza Changi, Pullman Guangzhou, Hilton Schipol and Sofitel Heathrow. SKYTRAX has their own list.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of landing from a 15 hour journey and seeing signs for your hotel next to signs for baggage claim. Not a 30 minute uber ride away, not out in the freezing cold or after a 45 minute train journey – just right there.  In the best of times, these airport hotels have curated guest experiences to where you never need to set foot outside; and a clear path from terminal to lobby can always be found.

From day rooms available for half a day to swanky pools and club lounges, these spaces are drawing typical city hotel guests to the airport, quelling early start or late night blues with absolutely blissful convenience. A 6AM flight isn’t all so bad when you only have to roll your bag 100 feet. Standards you’d expect in city high rises are coming to airports.

The Fairmont Vancouver Airport offers a top floor club lounge with sweeping airport views, locally sourced wines and gourmet food. The Crowne Plaza Changi features an outdoor pool you’d be thrilled with at any five star hotel, anywhere. The TWA Hotel promises a bar inside an original 1958 Lockheed Constellation, an icon of the so called “golden age” of travel – not to mention Manhattan views from its top floor lounge. In each case, you’re already in the terminal, or a hallway away. In some cases, the views are so good that people come just to take pictures or watch planes.

New hotel openings and grand refurbishments are pushing the levels of airport hotel sophistication to new heights at the same time when the cheapest flights are often the most inconveniently scheduled. There’s only one cure, and it certainly explains this growing trend. Next time you think airport hotel, expect more…

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