Need to jump on a conference call right after your flight lands? Or make a few phone calls before boarding your flight? Or maybe just need a quiet zone to de-stress from work, from travel, from everything?
I often have every one of these needs each time I travel. So where do I find this quiet space in busy airports? While each airport may offer different types of quiet zones, here is my go-to list to seek out:
(1) An empty gate area. There is almost always an empty gate area, whether it's nearby your flight or perhaps down a different corridor of the airport. The display board above a gate typically shows the time of the next flight at that particular gate, so I look for an area where there will not be a flight for two to three hours. There may be a few early birds who have arrived for this flight, but the area will usually be quiet enough for a call.
International gates are worth walking to, either in your same terminal or perhaps switching terminals. These gate areas are often less busy during the day, though busier in the evenings.
(2) Hotels connected to the airport are another good choice. Yes, you may need to go back through TSA security if you have a connecting flight, though it may be worth it to have a quiet lobby, business center or coffee shop area in which to make a phone call, power up your electronics or just relax. For example:
- The Hyatt at the Orlando Airport has a beautiful bar area, just an escalator ride above Security near the Delta/Southwest gates.
- The Hilton at Chicago's O'Hare Airport is within walking distance to all domestic terminals and an Airport Transit System ride away from the international terminal.
- The Marriott at Houston's Intercontinental Airport is a short underground train ride-away from the domestic terminals.
If the airport you're traveling through does not have an attached hotel, look for a nearby hotel that offers a shuttle service to/from the airport. Yes, a longer layover is needed for this, as well as another trip through security, so consider this a Plan B.
(3) An airport lounge is also an option, though a quiet gate area is my first choice for phone calls. Lounges are often very busy and it can be difficult to find a quiet place, especially at peak travel times. Some lounges have cubicle-like areas to use and these are your best bet for making a phone call. If you do not have a membership to an airport lounge, then look into a day pass if you have a long layover.
My voice level changes depending on whether I'm on a call with one person, where I use my normal voice vs. being on a conference call with several others, where my voice level goes much higher as I vie to get my input heard. Airport lounges are good for normal voice calls, the quiet gate area is better if your voice may rise.
(4) Rental car desk areas are another option. Sticking with airports mentioned above, both Orlando and Houston's car rental counter areas have nearby seating and the areas are generally quiet. If you're returning a rental car, use these same areas before going through security to catch your flight.
(5) Elevator areas are usually off the beaten path of a busy terminal and are another option if you're just needing a place to make a short phone call while standing. You may hear a few dings when the elevator arrives, but usually a herd of people won't be walking by. Escalators are always busy, elevators less so in many airports, so it's worth consideration.
(6) Airport restaurants are another option. If you can get a table towards the back of a restaurant - away from the restaurant entrance, the kitchen swinging door and the hallway to the bathrooms - you'll be in luck! You may also luck out and find a quiet table in the corner of a food court area.
(7) Another option, especially if having some quiet space to relax and de-stress away from the crowds, is to look for the airport chapel. If it's empty, maybe a quick call in your quiet voice is ok, especially to phone home to tell your family you love and miss them, but I wouldn't be holding a conference call from the chapel. Quiet is the tone here. See this post for airport chapel locations.
An example of a place not to make a phone call - an airport bathroom stall. I'm sure you've heard many a conversation from the stall next-door and it's amazing to me how the conversations keep on even though toilets are flushing all around them. No, definitely not from the bathroom stall.
These are my go-to places for phone calls and quiet areas while traveling through airports. What else would you add?