Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
A passenger sits in a Go Sleep pod at Abu Dhabi's airport. For now, the napping stations are free on a first-come, first-serve basis. Delores Johnson / The National
A passenger sits in a Go Sleep pod at Abu Dhabi's airport. For now, the napping stations are free on a first-come, first-serve basis. Delores Johnson / The National

Nap happy: sleeping pods at Abu Dhabi airport

The Life: Sleeping pods recently introduced at Abu Dhabi airport offer weary passengers the chance to catch 40 winks in privacy while awaiting connections.

A pair of tan Gucci loafers tucked under sleeping pod four is the only clue that an occupant lies slumbering within. Pink sandals are outside pod number seven.

When I first spy the eight Go Sleep pods next to gate 31 at Abu Dhabi airport, they are an arresting sight: futuristic and otherworldly. When their lids are down, it seems possible an alien creature might hatch out. But these are designed for weary travellers transiting through Abu Dhabi airport.

A Uni pod prototype, developed by a Swedish company, was unveiled at the Routes forum in Abu Dhabi last September. Copenhagen Airport signed a deal to be the first airport to house the pods but then Abu Dhabi Airport Company (Adac) swooped in and offered to collaborate on improving the design and helping the company market the idea globally.

For Adac, there is a business rationale for having the pods because 60 per cent of passengers travelling through the airport are in transit and likely to welcome the opportunity to nap during long layovers. While the airport currently has a hotel and business lounges, not everyone has access to these or wants to pay to use them.

The pods offer the opportunity for the economy traveller to catch some rest in comfort and privacy.

The eight pods, installed in terminal three on May 15 - there are two even swankier pods in the Al Dhabi business lounge - have proved quite a draw, with about 1,500 people using the service in the first month. They have been especially popular with passengers on their way to Toronto, Manila, Kuala Lumpur and Jeddah - these being the flights with particularly lengthy connection times.

Each seat is used on average 8.5 hours a day - but that time is gradually increasing in length as more people become aware of the pods and more feel comfortable using them. Most passengers arrive in ones and twos and spend, on average, two to two-and-a-half hours inside. There have been inquiries as to whether there are any double pods available: the answer is a polite but firm "no". Mothers, though, have cuddled up with their babies.

I, however, was happy to snooze solo.

Shielded from the concourse by a gift shop, the pods are in a relatively quiet spot - although perhaps a little close to a children's play area. They are filled on first-come basis and during the trial phase they are free to use. Users will eventually be charged Dh45 for one hour, Dh80 for two and Dh110 for three.

The pods effectively contain a business class airline seat. You can pop your luggage in the cavity under the seat, acquire pillows and blankets from the attendant and settle in. The chair reclines to a flat position, and I pulled the hood over the chair so that I was enclosed inside. Vents allow air and a little light into the cocoon, and the feeling inside is more cosy than claustrophobic. I could set an alarm before dozing off to ensure I didn't miss my flight, but the attendant also asks for the boarding time so that there are no oversleeping disasters. After each passenger leaves, the slip covering the headrest is changed and the chair cleaned.

Conveniently, showers, toilets and prayer rooms are located directly under the pods on the floor below.

After the trial period, and after the pods' design is tweaked, Adac's goal is to install a further 50. The airport staff in charge of the project are discussing perhaps relocating the pods and screening them off, so others know it's a sleeping area.

Design tweaks will include a window in the pods' sides to enable the occupant to see out and a red light on the top that will flash and alert the assistant when the alarm goes off. There are also plans to make internet available and screens, to enable the streaming of films.

As a veteran traveller, I have often found myself feeling hobo-like as I've looked for a secluded spot to rest between flights, so these pods are a godsend. I'd just make sure I packed my Gucci loafers in the underseat cavity. Nothing spoils a catnap like waking up to find your shoes have been stolen.

 

lgutcher@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 The Greens, villas: Q1 no change. 3BR - Dh210-250,000. 4BR - Dh210-260,000. 5BR - Dh220-300,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 5% rise. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Where Dubai rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Dubai have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

 The cooling towers of the Temelin nuclear power plant near the Tyn nad Vltavou in Czech Republic. The country wants to continue expanding nuclear energy capacity despite cancelling a tender to build two new units. David W Cerny / Reuters

In pictures: Best business images for the week to April 17, 2014

Here are some of the best business images for the week to April 17, 2014.

 Three generations of the Hakimi family tend to their stall Crawford Market in Mumbai. Subhash Sharma for The National

In pictures: Shopper’s delight at Crawford Market in Mumbai

Crawford Market is an old British-style covered market dealing in just about every kind of fresh food and domestic animal imaginable. Later on renamed Mahatma Jotirao Phule, the market remains popular among locals and visitors by its old name, taken from Arthur Crawford who was the first municipal commissioner of the city.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National