No Raleigh Airport Sleep Pods – Use These

While Raleigh Durham International Airport (RDU) does not yet offer modern sleeping pods like Minute Suites for flexible, pay-per-use sleep options within the terminals, this Raleigh Durham Airport Sleeping Guide will help you find the best spots to get comfortable sleep and make the most of your stay without leaving the airport.

Table of contents

Does Raleigh-Durham Airport Have Sleeping Pods?

RDU Airport does not have sleeping pods such as Minute Suites, which provide flexible, pay-per-use sleep options within the terminals.

Despite being one of the busiest airports in the United States and handling 5.8 million passengers annually, RDU has yet to embrace the modern, innovative, compact sleep pod technologies adopted by other major airports like Charlotte, SFO, Incheon, Shanghai, JFK, DTW, PEK, Dallas Fort Worth, Nashville, Baltimore, Houston(IAH) and Philadelphia Airports.

Minute Suites, the largest sleep pod operator in U.S. airports, offers private suites equipped with pullable beds, soundproofing, and workstations, allowing travelers to rest or work comfortably during layovers.

Check out these 21 tips to get sleep in airports

Benefits of Minute Suites That RDU Airport is Missing

  • Temperature Control: Offers a controlled environment, solving the issue of cold temperatures at night.
  • Private Rest Areas: Offers a quiet, personal space to escape the bustling airport environment.
  • Soundproofing: Ensures a peaceful sleep, free from airport noise.
  • Daybeds: Provides a comfortable bed for resting, addressing the issue of hard benches.
  • Workstations: Allows travelers to work in a private, uninterrupted space.
  • Flexible Booking: Pay-per-use flexibility caters to varying layover times.
  • Secure Environment: Enhanced security for personal belongings and a safe place to rest.
  • Convenient Locations: Located within terminals for easy access without leaving the airport.
  • 24/7 Availability: Ensures rest options are available regardless of flight schedules.
  • Power Outlets: Abundant charging stations for electronic devices.

So where can I sleep at Raleigh-Durham Airport?

Based on several first-hand flier comments and reviews by fliers who have stayed at this airport both overnight and during the day, below are the best spots to sleep at RDU”

Airside Recliners (Terminal 2 near Security)

  • Location: Terminal 2, just after the escalators following security.
  • Pros: Comfortable recliners perfect for a short rest.
  • Cons: Airside area closes around 3 AM, so you’ll need to move landside.

D Gates Bench (Terminal 2 near Gate D)

  • Location: Terminal 2, near Gate D.
  • Pros: One bench without armrests, allowing you to lie down.
  • Cons: Limited number of such benches; need to leave airside early.

Starbucks Seating Area (Landside near Check-in Counters)

  • Location: Landside, near the check-in counters.
  • Pros: Open 24 hours, with nearby benches.
  • Cons: Benches have armrests, making it difficult to lie down comfortably.

Baggage Claim Benches (Terminal 2 near Baggage Claim Area)

  • Location: Terminal 2, in the baggage claim area.
  • Pros: Long armless benches where you can lie down.
  • Cons: Benches are hard and uncomfortable; temperatures can be very cold at night.

Landside Terminal 2 Seating

  • Location: Throughout Terminal 2, landside.
  • Pros: Quiet and safe environment for overnight stays.
  • Cons: Limited seating without armrests; very cold at night.

Padded Benches by Furniture Store (Terminal 2)

  • Location: Terminal 2, near the furniture store display.
  • Pros: Padded benches offer more comfort.
  • Cons: Limited availability; may lack nearby power outlets.

General Tips for Sleeping at RDU

  • Timing: Plan to sleep before 3 AM as airside closes, forcing you landside.
  • Warmth: Bring extra layers or a travel blanket as it can get very cold.
  • Food and Drink: Limited late-night options; bring snacks and drinks.
  • Power: Look for charging stations early as they are limited.
  • Comfort: Be prepared for hard benches and limited sleeping spots without armrests.
  • Noise: Expect noise from elevators and other mechanical sounds landside.

General Observations

  • Cleanliness and Safety: RDU is generally clean and feels safe overnight.
  • Seating Options: Most seating options are landside with limited armrest-free spots.
  • Amenities: Airside amenities close by 10-11 PM, with Starbucks being the only 24-hour option landside.
  • Security: TSA opens at 4 AM, so plan accordingly for morning flights.

The Best Location to Sleep for Free at RDU:

The best location for sleep in Raleigh Durham Airport (RDU) is the Terminal 2 baggage claim area. This location offers long armless benches that allow travelers to lie down, making it one of the few spots suitable for extended rest. Although the benches are hard and the area can be quite cold at night, it remains a relatively quiet and safe environment.

It’s advisable to bring extra layers for warmth and be prepared for some noise from the surrounding areas. Additionally, with Starbucks nearby open 24 hours, you have access to food and drinks, though other amenities are limited late at night. For convenience, aim to settle here before airside areas close around 3 AM.

Sleeping at RDU Airport Terminal 2

Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) offers better amenities in Terminal 2 for travelers needing rest compared to Terminal 1. Terminal 2 features long, armless benches in the baggage claim area and a 24-hour Starbucks with adjacent seating, making it more suitable for overnight stays. While RDU lacks advanced sleep pods and in-airport hotels found at other major airports, Terminal 2’s quieter areas, food and drink options, and free Wi-Fi provide a relatively comfortable environment for resting during long layovers or delays. Understanding these facilities can help ensure a more restful experience.

Best Places for Sleeping at RDU Airport Terminal 2

1. Baggage Claim Area

  • Location: Landside, Terminal 2
  • Details: This area is quieter than other parts of the terminal and has long, armless benches, making it one of the more comfortable spots to lie down and rest. However, it can get cold at night, so bring extra layers or a travel blanket.

2. Near Gates D

  • Location: Airside, Terminal 2 near Gate D
  • Details: There is at least one bench without armrests near Gate D. This area tends to be less crowded late at night but note that you must leave airside when security checkpoints close around 11 PM.

3. Reclining Chairs

  • Location: Airside, Terminal 2, just after the security escalators
  • Details: Comfortable reclining chairs are available just after passing through security. These are ideal for short naps before security checkpoints close for the night.

4. Starbucks Seating Area

  • Location: Landside, near check-in counters in Terminal 2
  • Details: The 24-hour Starbucks provides access to food and drinks throughout the night, and there are benches nearby. Although these benches have armrests, the area is warmer and offers a place to rest.

5. Quiet Corners Near Check-in Counters

  • Location: Landside, Terminal 2
  • Details: There are some quieter corners near the check-in counters where you can find relatively peaceful spots to rest. However, seating here generally has armrests, making it less ideal for lying down.

Tips for Sleeping at RDU Terminal 2

  • Prepare for Cold: Bring extra layers or a travel blanket to stay warm, especially if you plan to sleep in the baggage claim area.
  • Eye Mask and Earplugs: Bright lighting and noise can be disruptive, so an eye mask and earplugs can help improve your sleep quality.
  • Charging Stations: Charging points are limited, so try to secure a spot near one if you need to charge your devices.

Summary of Sleeping in RDU Airport Reviews:

Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) offers a mixed experience for overnight stays, as reflected in various traveler reviews. On the positive side, the airport is generally considered safe, with quiet areas in Terminal 2, particularly in the baggage claim section, and a 24-hour Starbucks providing food and drinks throughout the night. Free Wi-Fi is also available, which is appreciated by many travelers. However, there are notable drawbacks, including disruptive noise from cleaning activities and announcements, pervasive bright lighting, and cold temperatures at night.

The seating options are limited and often uncomfortable, with many benches having armrests, and TSA checkpoints close at night, requiring passengers to move landside until they reopen. These reviews highlight the need for travelers to come prepared with items like eye masks and blankets to improve their overnight stay at RDU.

Pros

  • Safety: Travelers consistently feel secure overnight. One review mentioned, “It feels very safe to be there overnight.”
  • Quiet Areas: Some parts of Terminal 2, especially the baggage claim area, offer quieter spots with dim lighting after 11 PM. As one traveler noted, it was “quiet, felt safe, dim lighting after about 11pm.”
  • 24-Hour Food Options: The 24-hour Starbucks in Terminal 2 provides food and drinks throughout the night, which is crucial for overnight stays. A review highlighted this, saying, “The Starbucks is open 24 hours.”
  • Free Wi-Fi: RDU offers unlimited free Wi-Fi, which is essential for staying connected. A traveler noted, “Free WiFi is available at the airport (with no time restriction).”

Cons

  • Noise Levels: Noise from cleaning activities, announcements, and other passengers can be disruptive. One review mentioned, “Noise from cleaning activities, announcements, and other passengers,” as a challenge.
  • Bright Lighting: Bright lights are pervasive throughout the airport, making sleep difficult without an eye mask. A review pointed out, “Bright lighting throughout the airport, making sleep difficult without eye masks.
  • Cold Temperatures: The airport can get very cold at night, especially in landside areas like the baggage claim. One traveler described it as, “It is iceberg cold at night.”
  • Limited Comfortable Seating: There are few comfortable sleeping spots, with many benches having armrests. As one review stated, there are “limited bench options (armrests).”
  • Security Checkpoint Closures: TSA checkpoints close at night, requiring travelers to move landside until they reopen at 4 AM. A review noted, “You must leave airside around 3 AM.”

By weighing these pros and cons, travelers can better prepare for an overnight stay at RDU and make the most of the available facilities and conditions

How to Pick the Most Suitable Place to Sleep at Raleigh Airport:

Raleigh Durham International Airport (RDU) offers several options for travelers needing rest during layovers, canceled flights, or early morning departures. While the airport lacks dedicated sleeping pods, there are still viable spots to catch some sleep based on your specific needs. Here are expert recommendations based on key factors like quietness, comfort, temperature, and convenience.

For Quiet

If a quiet environment is your priority, these locations are the best options within the airport:

  • Baggage Claim Benches (Terminal 2): Away from the main hustle, providing a quieter area to rest.
  • Near Gates D (Terminal 2): These areas tend to be less crowded late at night.

For Comfort

For those seeking the most comfortable sleeping arrangements, consider nearby hotels:

  • RDU Airport Marriott: Offers plush bedding and soundproof rooms for a good night’s sleep.
  • Embassy Suites by Hilton Raleigh Durham Airport Brier Creek: Provides spacious suites and complimentary breakfast.
  • Hilton Garden Inn Raleigh-Durham Airport: Features comfortable beds and convenient shuttle services.

For Temperature

To avoid cold temperatures that can be an issue in certain parts of the airport, these spots are recommended:

  • Near Starbucks (Landside, Terminal 2): The 24-hour operation helps maintain a warmer atmosphere.
  • Inside the Terminal 2 Baggage Claim Area: Generally warmer and more insulated from outside temperatures.

For Convenience

If proximity to amenities and security re-entry is important, these locations are ideal:

  • Airside Recliners (Terminal 2 near Security): Easily accessible before the security checkpoints close.
  • Near Check-in Counters (Landside, Terminal 2): Close to Starbucks and other facilities for food and drink.

By selecting the right location based on these factors, travelers can ensure a more restful and comfortable experience while navigating overnight stays or layovers at RDU.

Airport Hours and Security Checkpoints at Raleigh Durham International Airport (RDU)

Raleigh Durham International Airport (RDU) operates 24 hours a day, providing around-the-clock access to its facilities. However, travelers should be aware that security checkpoints do close during the night. Typically, the security checkpoints close around 3:00 AM and reopen at 4:00 AM.

Key Points for Fliers:

  • 24-Hour Operations: The airport itself remains open 24/7, so passengers can stay within the terminal buildings overnight.
  • Security Checkpoint Closure: Security checkpoints are closed from approximately 3:00 AM to 4:00 AM. During this time, passengers must move to the landside of the airport.
  • Reopening Time: Security checkpoints reopen at 4:00 AM, allowing passengers to clear security and access airside areas.
  • Airside Access: Once security checkpoints close, passengers must stay in the landside areas until they reopen. It’s important to plan ahead and ensure any necessary activities airside (e.g., dining, shopping) are completed before the checkpoints close.
  • Sleeping Arrangements: During the security closure period, fliers should seek out landside sleeping spots, such as benches or seating areas, and be prepared for the transition between airside and landside during late-night hours.
  • Early Morning Flights: Passengers with early morning flights should arrive at the airport early enough to clear security when it reopens at 4:00 AM, ensuring sufficient time to reach their gates.

By understanding these key points, travelers can better navigate their overnight stays and early morning departures at RDU, ensuring a smoother and more comfortable experience.

What to Expect about Sleep at Raleigh Durham Airport:

Noise Levels

Travelers should be aware that noise levels can vary throughout the airport. The baggage claim area in Terminal 2 is generally quieter, making it a better option for light sleepers. However, the landside areas can become noisier with cleaning activities and announcements.

Bright Lighting

Bright lighting is a common issue in most parts of the airport. The baggage claim area in Terminal 2 offers slightly dimmer lighting compared to other areas. Additionally, the seating areas near the check-in counters have brighter lighting, which might make it challenging to sleep without an eye mask.

Temperature Levels

RDU can get quite cold at night, especially in the baggage claim area and other landside locations. It is recommended to bring extra layers or a travel blanket to stay warm. The landside Starbucks, open 24 hours, tends to be warmer due to its continuous operation.

Seating Comfort

Seating comfort is limited, with most benches having armrests. The baggage claim area in Terminal 2 has long, armless benches, making it a more suitable spot for lying down. The landside Starbucks provides some cushioned seating, though it may not be ideal for extended rest.

Security

The airport remains open 24 hours, but travelers must be aware that security checkpoints close at night. The TSA checkpoint in Terminal 1 closes at 10:30 PM, and the checkpoint in Terminal 2 closes at 11 PM. The security presence remains throughout the night, ensuring a safe environment for those resting landside.

By considering these factors and choosing the appropriate locations, travelers can better navigate the sleep situation at RDU and find a more comfortable and restful experience.

5 Alternatives to Sleep Pods at RDU: Hotels near RDU:

Fairfield Inn & Suites Raleigh-Durham Airport/Brier Creek

  • Distance from Airport: 1.5 miles
  • Shuttle Service: Free airport shuttle available.
  • Suitability: Ideal for travelers looking for convenience and proximity to RDU, US70/Glenwood Ave., and Brier Creek. Perfect for those with early morning flights or needing easy highway access.
  • Additional Features: Offers a complimentary breakfast, spacious accommodations, and close proximity to shopping and dining options.
  • Check Rates

Hyatt House Raleigh/RDU/Brier Creek

  • Distance from Airport: 1.6 miles
  • Shuttle Service: Complimentary airport shuttle service.
  • Suitability: Ideal for travelers seeking a friendly, clean, and comfortable stay. Perfect for those passing through Raleigh and needing reliable transportation to and from the airport.
  • Additional Features: Features a 24-hour fitness center, outdoor pool, and complimentary breakfast, making it suitable for extended stays and families.
  • Check Rates

The Westin Raleigh – Durham Airport

  • Distance from Airport: 1.9 miles
  • Shuttle Service: Complimentary airport shuttle available.
  • Suitability: Perfect for travelers who value proximity to the airport without the noise. Ideal for those needing a quiet and restful stay before or after a flight.
  • Additional Features: Offers luxurious accommodations with soundproof rooms, an on-site restaurant, and a fitness center, catering to both leisure and business travelers.
  • Check Rates

Embassy Suites by Hilton Raleigh Durham Airport Brier Creek

  • Distance from Airport: 2.1 miles
  • Shuttle Service: Free airport shuttle provided.
  • Suitability: Ideal for business and leisure travelers looking for convenience and comfort. The proximity to the airport ensures ease of travel.
  • Additional Features: Features spacious two-room suites, a complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast, and an evening reception with drinks and snacks, perfect for families and groups.
  • Check Rates

Hampton Inn & Suites Raleigh-Durham Airport-Brier Creek

  • Distance from Airport: 2.1 miles
  • Shuttle Service: Free airport shuttle service available.
  • Suitability: Ideal for travelers needing to be close to the airport, shopping, and dining options. Great for those who appreciate comfortable accommodations with convenient amenities.
  • Additional Features: Offers complimentary hot breakfast, free Wi-Fi, an indoor pool, and fitness center, making it a great choice for both short and extended stays.
  • Check Rates

Other Nearby Hotels(Table):

Hotel NameDistance from Airport (miles)Review HighlightsAverage Review Rating
Cambria Hotel Raleigh – Durham Airport1.8Free shuttle, lowest rate compared to nearby hotels.4.5
Hilton Garden Inn Raleigh-Durham Airport2.0Close to the airport for early morning flights.4.0
La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Raleigh Durham Intl AP2.1Central location to RDU, RTP, Raleigh, Durham, Cary, and Morrisville.4.0
Hampton Inn Raleigh Durham Airport2.3Wonderful location near the airport with a free shuttle and parking.4.5
Hyatt Place Raleigh – Durham Airport1.8Conveniently located, very quiet despite being near the airport.4.0
Tru by Hilton Raleigh Durham Airport1.8Clean, fun, comfortable, accommodating hotel.4.0
Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Raleigh-Durham Airport, NC1.9Very close to Raleigh-Durham Airport at a reasonable price.4.0
Fairfield Inn & Suites Raleigh-Durham Airport/Research Triangle Park2.3Delightful Fairfield Inn and Suites, close to the airport.4.5
Sonesta Select Raleigh Durham Airport Morrisville2.1Very convenient to the RDU airport and the interstate.4.0
Aloft Raleigh-Durham Airport Brier Creek1.7Close to the airport.4.0
These hotels offer various amenities and proximity to the airport, making them convenient choices for travelers.

Concluding Thoughts on Sleeping at RDU Airport

With the lack of sleeping pods such as Minute Suites at RDU, travelers still have several viable options for catching some rest, either within the airport or at nearby hotels.

Inside RDU, some of the top-recommended spots for sleeping include the baggage claim benches in Terminal 2, which provide quieter areas with armless benches, and the landside Starbucks, open 24 hours, where you can find some seating options and a warmer atmosphere. These areas, along with select spots near the D Gates and the seating areas by the check-in counters, are highlighted by travelers for their relative peace and availability of amenities like power outlets and close proximity to restrooms.

For those seeking more comfort and privacy, nearby hotels such as Fairfield Inn & Suites Raleigh-Durham Airport/Brier Creek and Hyatt House Raleigh/RDU/Brier Creek offer convenient, complimentary shuttle services and are highly suitable for varying travel schedules. The Westin Raleigh – Durham Airport and Embassy Suites by Hilton Raleigh Durham Airport Brier Creek cater excellently to travelers with late-night arrivals or early-morning departures, providing luxurious accommodations and additional amenities to ensure a restful stay.

FAQs

Can you spend the night at Raleigh airport

Yes, you can spend the night at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU). The airport operates 24/7, providing a safe environment for overnight stays. However, there are a few factors to consider:

Sleeping Options and Conditions:

Amenities: The 24-hour Starbucks in Terminal 2 landside provides access to food and drinks throughout the night. Free Wi-Fi is available, but charging stations are limited.

Security Checkpoints: The TSA checkpoints close at night (Terminal 1 at 10:30 PM and Terminal 2 at 11 PM) and reopen at 4 AM. During this time, you will need to stay in the landside areas of the airport.

Seating and Comfort: RDU has limited armrest-free seating, primarily in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2, which offers some of the quieter and more comfortable spots for lying down. Most other benches have armrests, making it difficult to lie flat.

Lighting and Noise: The airport is well-lit, and noise from cleaning activities and announcements can be disruptive. Bringing an eye mask and earplugs is advisable.

Temperature: It can get quite cold at night, especially in landside areas. Bringing extra layers or a travel blanket will help you stay warm.

What time does TSA Open at RDU?

According to RDU’s website, the airport opens at 4 AM, and TSA opens security checkpoints at the same time. The TSA checkpoint in Terminal 1 typically closes at 10:30 PM daily, while the checkpoint in Terminal 2 usually closes at 11 PM. It’s advisable to arrive early, especially for early morning flights, to ensure enough time to pass through security and reach your gate. Read more on RDU’s website here.

RDU Airport Sleeping Score

Here is the detailed sleeping score for Raleigh Durham International Airport (RDU) based on various categories:

CategorySubcategoryDescriptionMax Score PointsScore Awarded
Sleep AccommodationsInnovative Sleep PodsRDU lacks innovative sleep pods like Minute Suites. No dedicated sleep pods available.100
Sleep AccommodationsIn-Airport HotelThere is no airport inside RDU Airport.80
Sleep AccommodationsHotels with Free Shuttle ServiceSeveral nearby hotels offer free shuttle services. Convenient for travelers. The best nearby hotel with shuttle that’s closest is Fairfield Inn & Suites Raleigh-Durham Airport/Brier Creek.54
Designated Rest ZonesNo designated rest zones but some quieter spots in the baggage claim area.51
Sleep AccommodationsAccess to Day-rooms in Airport Hotels or by Nearby HotelsNearby hotels offer day-use rooms, but no in-airport options. The most budget-friendly nearby hotel is La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Raleigh Durham Intl AP.32
Sleeping Seating and Space Availability
Armrest-Free ChairsLimited armrest-free chairs, mostly in baggage claim area.52
Sleeping Seating and Space AvailabilityAvailability of Seating SpacesLimited seating space, especially during peak hours. Few comfortable options.52
Sleeping Seating and Space AvailabilityAvailability and Variety of Sleeping Areas/SolutionsLimited sleeping areas, few armless benches available.31
Sleeping Seating and Space AvailabilityDo Fliers Get Actual Long Night Sleep?Many travelers report difficulties in getting uninterrupted long sleep due to noise and lighting.31
Ambient Environment for SleepLightingBright lighting throughout the airport, making sleep difficult without eye masks.61
Ambient Environment for SleepSound Level at NightNoise from cleaning activities, announcements, and other passengers. Few quieter areas.52
Ambient Environment for SleepTemperatureCold temperatures at night, especially in baggage claim and landside areas.51
Operating Hours and Accessibility24/7 OperationAirport operates 24/7, but security checkpoints close at night.55
Operating Hours and AccessibilityEase of Overnight StayMixed reviews on ease of overnight stay, with challenges due to seating and noise.53
Operating Hours and AccessibilityAccess to Amenities After Hours Such as FoodLimited 24/7 dining options, only Starbucks available landside.31
Operating Hours and AccessibilityAccessibility of Transport ServicesEfficient shuttle services from nearby hotels, but limited public transport options at night.21
AmenitiesCleanlinessGenerally clean, but cleanliness varies in different areas.22
AmenitiesSecuritySecurity presence is consistent, making the airport feel safe.11
AmenitiesWi-FiFree Wi-Fi available throughout the airport. The network is “RDU Free WiFi”22
AmenitiesChargingCharging stations are available but limited.1.51
AmenitiesShowersNo public showers available. Consider the day-use hotels above. 30
AmenitiesLounge and AccessibilityFew lounges available, mostly accessible via membership or day passes. American Airlines Admirals Club
Raleigh – Durham Airport is accessible at $79 and can pay at the door and can meet conditions on AA’s website here.
21
AmenitiesLuggage Storage FacilitiesNo dedicated luggage storage facilities.20
AmenitiesWellness FacilitiesNo wellness facilities like spas or salons available.20
AmenitiesEntertainment OptionsLimited entertainment options within the airport.10.5
AmenitiesPet FriendlinessLimited pet-friendly amenities, few designated relief areas.21
AmenitiesParent and Child-Friendly FacilitiesFew family-friendly facilities like nursing stations.21
AmenitiesAccess to Smoking AreasLimited access to smoking areas, mostly landside.1.51
Image of Nathan Kip Rotich

Nathan helps travelers find the most comfortable sleep setups during layovers, from cozy airport hotels to futuristic sleep pods. His insights aim to transform layovers into rejuvenating sleepcations, offering travelers an alternative to costly hotels and uncomfortable benches.