The success of a hub airport and the airlines that support them is efficiency, providing a minimum connecting time between flights that is deliverable. However, flight levels have reduced significantly in the current Covid-19 impacted environment and while airlines have resumed a large number of routes, frequencies are considerably reduced due to the current limited demand.
This has a much heavier impact on airlines that rely on connecting passenger flows than those that serve strong local point-to-point markets. In fact it could be a big deterrent on customer choosing to fly with them, especially while concerns remain among travellers to the safety of the journey and the threat of Covid-19. A long wait at an airport mixing with passengers arriving from numerous countries does not lessen any fears.
There are always solutions – an airport lounge for premium and frequent travellers, even checking into a local hotel or specialist transit facility, if available – but increasingly we are seeing the introduction of private sleep pods available at airports around the world. They offer a convenient location to lay down and get some rest, some tranquillity to scan those important emails and finishing typing those reports, or simply a private space to keep your distance from others.
One specialist in this area is Airport Dimensions, a global provider of premium shared-use lounges, which recently acquired ONGROUND Hospitality and the sleep lounge brand sleep ’n fly. Expanding its activities in the Middle East and adding to operational and planned facilities in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) it has now confirmed its arrival in Qatar with the launch of a new sleep and private space offer at Hamad International Airport.
The launch of what the company describes as its “first non-traditional lounge”, the concept in Qatar marries its own global lounge operations and design expertise with sleep ’n fly’s offer to provide comfortable, private sleeping and social distancing areas for passengers.
Located at the heart of Hamad International’s transit area, close to the airport’s iconic art piece, Lamp Bear, the 225 square metre lounge features a selection of sleep pods and cabins with accommodation for up to 50 guests. Visitors can pay by the hour to stay at one of the sleep units, which provide a soundproofed and air-conditioned space to relax and rest ahead of or between flights.
The accommodation includes a mix of 24 FlexiSuite Pods and 13 Sleep Cabins. The new FlexiSuite Pods concept is being launched with a180° flat-bed reclining seat in a soundproof space. It features dimmable ambient lighting, a reading light, air conditioning, a 32 inch screen to connect to travellers’ mobile, tablet or laptop, a folding tray table, cup holders, a small waste bin, baggage storage and compartments to store coats, shoes and laptop.
The Sleep Cabins offer four double bed cabins with an optional pull-out bed for a child of up to 115 cm in height (maximum 2 adults and 1 child), and nine bunk bed cabins are available. These small but stylishly designed spaces are soundproof and have air conditioning, as well as main, ambient and reading lights, an alarm clock, a coat hanger, a mirror and tray table.
Errol McGlothan, managing director at Airport Dimensions, describes Hamad International as “the perfect place” to launch the new sleep and private space concept and its first lounge concept in the Middle East. “The sleep pods and cabins provide a convenient, premium and safe space for travellers looking to recharge during a long layover or enjoy a quick nap before an early morning flight,” he says.
The new sleep ’n fly lounge is open to walk-in and corporate guests, online pre-bookings, Priority Pass members and LoungeKey users. Complimentary branded merchandise including pillows and blankets is available to visitors during their stay.
The ongoing concerns over Covid-19 mean that these such facilities can provide an additional comfort for passengers, but just like at hotels and other accommodation, new higher level of hygiene and cleaning protocols are required. Sleep ’n fly says it is taking “all necessary steps” to ensure guests feel “safe and well whilst relaxing in their own personal space ahead of their flight”.
All sleep ’n fly sleep lounges, sleep pods and cabins are thoroughly disinfected after every guest check-out, and any public touch points such as reception counters and payment terminals are disinfected after each use. Also, it explains, all staff have been receiving regular health and safety training and Covid-19 testing.
The sleep ’n fly Sleep Lounges are currently available at Terminals 1 and 3 at Dubai International Airport, with sleep pods also located within regular third-party lounges under a separate pod-in-lounge concept.