Today I was horrified to read about a woman who was sexually assaulted at the Denver Airport on Monday night. The 22-year old woman missed her connecting to flight to Illinois and with no money for a hotel, she decided to stay overnight in the concourse.
The woman said that she went to an airport restaurant bar and struck up a conversation with Noel Alexander Bertrand, a 26-year old former marine. When the restaurant closed, the woman left to find a seat and the man followed her and sat down beside her. That’s when the horror began. The woman said he sexually assaulted her for ten minutes, just after midnight in the deserted terminal. To add to an already horrifying experience, apparently two airport janitors passed by during the attack and did not even stop to help. Eventually private security saw what was happening and called the police. See the ABC News interview for more info.
While this is a very rare attack, it is a reminder to all of us to take precautions at the airport. As a woman who has slept in a few airports by herself, I have taken a few risks in an effort to have a quiet night. In my early experiences, I had two incidents where I set up “camp” in deserted areas of an airport thinking that it was quieter and I would get more sleep there. Fortunately, in both cases, security came to move me pretty quickly telling me it would be unsafe and suggested I move to a different part of the terminal.
As the summer airport sleeping season gears up and many single travellers hit the airports for a night’s rest, here are my tips for a safe night in the airport:
Know where the security office/desk is located and look for video cameras in the spot you decide to stay the night. Ask security or airport staff where a safe spot would be to spend the night. They’ve seen many airport sleepers before you and and they will direct you to a safe spot that is patrolled. I am going to start to add the security office location to the airport guides.
- Safety in Numbers
Look for other airport sleepers! Don’t sleep alone….even when you travel solo. Look for couples or groups of people. If there are none, look for areas of the airport that have staff members working such as food courts, the check-in hall, and car rental counters. If there is a hotel at the airport, go to their lobby!
- Avoid dark areas
Unless security has night vision cameras they won’t be able to see you properly if it is dark. Sleep in bright areas and wear eye shades or cover your face with an article of clothing if you can’t sleep with the lights on.
- Trust your instincts
If there are suspicious looking people walking around, don’t try to sleep – stay alert! If you are uncomfortable with your surroundings, get out of there! We often say that we cannot afford a hotel room, but if we can afford our plane ticket, we should be able to afford a hotel room or a taxi to the airport. Most of us just choose not to!
For more tips, visit my How to Sleeping in the Airport guide.
If you have any tips, please add them in comments.