Staff at Auckland International Airport are used to seeing travellers sleeping in the terminals, mostly lying on rows of seats, sometimes wrapped in sleeping bags or under blankets. But the recent traveller who strung a hammock between two pillars took the process to a whole new level.
That well-prepared tourist serves as a reminder that a lot of people do arrange to sleep in air terminals between flights rather than face the cost of accommodation or the hassles or getting to a hotel.
There's even a website, sleepinginairports.net, advising travellers which airports are the best to sleep in and which should be avoided.
When Herald Travel previously wrote about the website, back in March last year, itated Auckland International as one of its top 10 terminals to sleep in.
Since then Auckland has been overtaken by bigger and busier airports. The present top 10 are:
1. Singapore Changi
2. Seoul Incheon
3. Amsterdam Schiphol
4. Oslo Gardermoen
5. Hong Kong
7. Frankfurt International
10. Denver, Colorado
However Auckland is listed as one of the five best airports in Oceania for sleeping - the others are Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and, incredibly, Port Moresby - and if you read the reviews it's pretty clear that Auckland is the favourite.
(Well, in Sydney sleepers are herded into a lock-up for the night, and in Port Moresby you could be shot, so the competition isn't too tough.)
Despite its favourable rating, Auckland Airport says it hasn't noticed any growth in numbers over the years and it's hopeful that the new airport hotel, planned in time for the Rugby World Cup in 2011, may provide a more comfortable alternative for some.
"While we do not necessarily encourage it," a spokesman said, "in general, Auckland Airport is comfortable with people sleeping here for a night, as long as they are not looking for regular free accommodation."
Airport Security keeps an eye out for sleepers' well-being and is increasing CCTV surveillance and increasing the number of foot patrols in order to make the international airport a safer place to be. "Unfortunately on rare occasions we have had the odd bag taken while passengers are asleep. Offenders have been caught and are banned from the airport for a period of two years along with a criminal conviction via the courts."
And, by the way, if you do need to kip out at the airport the company reckons the best place is the second floor of the international terminal which is "the quietest spot, with lots of seating for passengers to spread out on ... a little darker and easier for them to get a good night's sleep".
- Jim Eagles
Pictured above: This traveller took his comfort seriously, stringing up a hammock between two pillars for his airport slumber.