Sleeping in Southwest Florida Airport

Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW), owned and operated by Lee County Port Authority, handles over 5 million passengers annually, with a notable surge in traffic during March.

Layover passengers may find longer wait times during these peak periods. While RSW doesn’t have sleeping pods or dedicated rest areas, this guide provides all the best free sleep alternatives within the terminals.

Additionally, it includes information on nearby hotels offering comfortable accommodations and convenient shuttle services. Whether you’re dealing with a long layover or an unexpected delay, this guide will help you find a suitable spot to relax and recharge. Safe travels.

Does Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) Have Sleep Pods?

Unfortunately, Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) has not installed any innovative sleep technologies such as sleeping pods similar to those designed by GoSleep, nor has Minute Suites expanded its airport mini-sleep suites to this airport.

As I researched RSW’s operations and its strategic plans, as captured in recent RSW Master Plan there are no current plans to introduce rest areas or pay-per-use sleep facilities at this airport.

RSW Master Plan for Airport Expansion which lack sleeping pods
Snapshot showing RSW’s expansion masterplan.

Missed opportunity to introduce sleep pods:

The $331-million terminal expansion at Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) aims to enhance passenger experience with more amenities and improved efficiency. Integrating sleeping pods into this expansion would have provided a significant benefit to travelers, especially those with long layovers or overnight stays.

These pods offer a comfortable, private space for rest, aligning well with the project’s goals of adding seating, concession spaces, and a business lounge. Including sleep pods would have enhanced the airport’s reputation for passenger comfort and modern amenities, making it a more appealing transit hub.

Despite these substantial upgrades aimed at improving passenger experience and operational efficiency, none of the recent enhancements at RSW included the installation of sleep pods or dedicated rest areas for travelers.

This lack of sleep facilities means that passengers needing to rest overnight must rely on the available seating areas, which are limited and often uncomfortable for extended periods. Therefore, travelers should plan accordingly and be prepared for a less than ideal sleeping environment if they need to stay overnight at RSW.

Why RSW Needs Improved Sleep Amenities

Seasonal Peaking at RSW

Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) is the highest seasonal-peaking airport in the US, experiencing significantly more traffic in March compared to September.

This results in exponentially increasing delays during peak periods, while off-peak delays remain limited. Consequently, average delays at RSW become significant at lower overall aircraft operation levels than those at other single-runway airports, leading to a lower Annual Service Volume (ASV).

Incorporating sleep amenities, such as sleeping pods, would greatly benefit passengers, especially during peak traffic times. These amenities would provide a comfortable, private space for rest, enhancing the passenger experience and reducing the stress associated with delays and long layovers. Improved sleep facilities would align with RSW’s goals of enhancing passenger comfort and modernizing the airport, making it a more appealing transit hub.

Here is a PDF with more details or this other October 2023 Update.

So, Where Can I Sleep at RSW?

Finding a place to sleep at Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) can be challenging due to the lack of dedicated rest areas or sleep pods. The best options for travelers include the landside wooden benches near the main ticket counters in Terminal 1, which are dark and relatively quiet, and the lower level outdoor gazebo near Concourse B for those who prefer fresh air.

The business center in Terminal 1 offers a quieter environment compared to general seating areas but has limited access. Although the airside areas have more comfortable soft seats, they are only accessible during operational hours and not available overnight. Travelers should bring earplugs and a travel blanket to mitigate noise and cold temperatures.

Here are details of all recommended locations:

Near Ticket Counters in Terminal 1

  • Location: Landside, near the main ticket counters.
  • Pros: Dark and quiet, friendly police assistance, close to amenities.
  • Cons: Loud music and frequent PA announcements disrupt sleep.
  • Amenities: Benches with no movable armrests, free WiFi.

Landside Wooden Benches in Terminal 1

  • Location: Landside, scattered throughout the terminal near check-in areas.
  • Pros: Standard wooden benches available, helpful airport staff.
  • Cons: No movable armrests, loud music, and PA announcements every 30 minutes.
  • Amenities: Benches without armrests, free WiFi, nearby restrooms.

Lower Level Outdoor Gazebo Near Concourse B

  • Location: Lower level near Concourse B.
  • Pros: Outdoor option for those preferring fresh air, quieter compared to indoors.
  • Cons: Limited seating, might not be suitable during inclement weather.
  • Amenities: Outdoor seating, some benches, free WiFi extends to the area.

Business Center in Terminal 1

  • Location: Landside, near the main ticket counters, previously a silent sleep room.
  • Pros: Quieter environment compared to general seating areas.
  • Cons: Limited access as it functions as a business center.
  • Amenities: Comfortable seating, power outlets, free WiFi.

View Areas Inside Terminal 1

  • Location: Airside, near various gates with views of the airfield.
  • Pros: Great views of the airfield, free WiFi.
  • Cons: Limited activity at night, not very comfortable for sleeping.
  • Amenities: Some padded seating, charging stations, quiet during nighttime.

Soft Seats After Security in Terminal 1

  • Location: Airside, past security, near various gates.
  • Pros: More comfortable seats available post-security.
  • Cons: Only accessible during operational hours, not available if terminals are closed.
  • Amenities: Soft seats, charging stations, restrooms nearby.

Clean Bathrooms Throughout Terminal 1

  • Location: Landside and airside, near major gate areas and food courts.
  • Pros: Well-maintained and clean, which adds comfort.
  • Cons: Only a temporary reprieve from the noisy environment.
  • Amenities: Clean restrooms, free WiFi nearby, easily accessible.

For the best sleeping experience, it is recommended to come prepared with earplugs and possibly a travel blanket to mitigate the loud announcements and cool temperatures.

Review of RSW Sleep Quality:

Pros

  1. Dark and Quiet Areas: Certain landside areas, such as near the ticket counters in Terminal 1, are darker and quieter, making them suitable for sleep.
  2. Friendly Staff and Security: The airport staff and police are known to be helpful and may assist in finding the best places to rest.
  3. Free WiFi: Available throughout the airport, making it easy to stay connected and entertained during a layover by using the “RSWiFly” network.
  4. Clean Facilities: The restrooms are well-maintained and clean, which adds to the overall comfort.
  5. Outdoor Option: The lower-level gazebo near Concourse B provides an outdoor area for those who prefer fresh air.

Cons

  1. Limited Comfortable Seating: Most seating options, such as wooden benches and chairs with metal armrests, are not very comfortable for extended periods of sleep.
  2. Noise Levels: The airport plays loud music and frequent PA announcements, which can disrupt sleep. Earplugs are highly recommended.
  3. Security Checkpoint Restrictions: Security checkpoints close around midnight and reopen early in the morning, limiting access to more comfortable airside seating overnight.
  4. Lack of Dedicated Sleep Amenities: There are no sleep pods or designated rest areas, making it challenging to find a truly restful spot.
  5. Temperature: The terminal can get cold at night, so a travel blanket or warm clothing is advisable.
  6. No Pay-Per-Use Lounges: The airport does not offer pay-per-use lounges, limiting options for comfortable resting spaces.
  7. Lack of Sleeping Pods: There are no sleeping pods available for travelers needing a private space to rest.
  8. No In-Airport Hotel: The absence of an in-airport hotel means travelers must rely on terminal seating for overnight stays.
  9. Overnight Airport Closure: The airport effectively closes overnight as security checkpoints shut down, limiting access to airside areas and amenities.

Overview of Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) Hours and Security Checkpoints

Airport Hours

Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) operates 24 hours a day. However, most of the terminal services and amenities have limited operating hours, typically aligned with flight schedules. It’s important for travelers to note that while the airport itself is always open, access to certain areas and services may be restricted during off-peak hours.

Security Checkpoints

The security checkpoints at RSW do close overnight. They generally close after the last scheduled departure, which is usually around 9:00 PM. These checkpoints typically reopen early in the morning, around 4:00 AM, to accommodate early morning flights.

According to the official airport website page on TSA, flyrsw.com, TSA checkpoints at RSW remain open until 30 minutes before the last scheduled departure, but never later than 12:00 a.m. All passengers, including those with delayed flights, must clear security before midnight to avoid disruptions.

Accessing Airside

When the security checkpoints are closed, passengers will not have access to the airside areas of the terminal. Here are key points for fliers to consider:

  • Plan Accordingly: If you arrive at the airport after the security checkpoints have closed, you will have to wait landside until they reopen. This means that any overnight stays in the airport will be spent landside, where amenities may be limited.
  • Sleeping Locations: The landside area offers some sleeping spots, such as wooden benches and seating near ticket counters. However, these areas may be less comfortable and can be noisy due to loud music and frequent PA announcements.
  • Early Arrivals: For early morning flights, it is recommended to arrive shortly after the security checkpoints reopen at 3:00 AM to ensure a smooth process through security and to avoid any rush.
  • Amenities: While landside, you can take advantage of the available amenities such as clean restrooms, free WiFi, and certain open concessions. Be mindful that most services, including food outlets, may be closed overnight.

Tips for Fliers

  • Prepare for Noise: The landside area can be noisy with frequent announcements and music. Consider bringing earplugs or noise-canceling headphones to make your stay more comfortable.
  • Warm Clothing: Airports can get cold at night, so having a sweater or travel blanket can help keep you warm.
  • WiFi Access: Free WiFi is available throughout the airport, which can be useful for staying connected and entertained during your wait.

By planning ahead and being aware of the airport’s operating hours and security checkpoint schedules, travelers can better navigate their time at Southwest Florida International Airport and ensure a more comfortable experience.

5 Alternatives to RSW Sleep Pods: Hotels Near RSW with Free Shuttle

Crowne Plaza Ft. Myers Gulf Coast, an IHG Hotel

  • Shuttle Service: Free airport shuttle available.
  • Suitability: Ideal for travelers looking for a convenient stay close to the airport with reliable shuttle service. Great for both business and leisure travelers.
  • Additional Features: Features a fitness center, on-site restaurant, and meeting facilities. The friendly and welcoming staff are often praised by guests.
  • Check Rates

Hampton Inn Ft. Myers-Airport I-75

  • Shuttle Service: Free airport shuttle available.
  • Suitability: Perfect for travelers seeking proximity to the airport and a variety of dining options nearby. Suitable for early flights and short stays.
  • Additional Features: Includes a complimentary breakfast, fitness center, and outdoor pool. Highly rated for cleanliness and service.
  • Check Rates

Days Inn & Suites by Wyndham Fort Myers Near JetBlue Park

  • Shuttle Service: Free airport shuttle available.
  • Suitability: Suitable for travelers wanting an economical option close to the airport. Convenient for sports fans visiting JetBlue Park.
  • Additional Features: Offers a complimentary breakfast, outdoor pool, and fitness center. Praised for being close to RSW without the noise.
  • Check Rates

Hilton Garden Inn Fort Myers Airport/FGCU

  • Shuttle Service: Free airport shuttle available.
  • Suitability: Ideal for business travelers and guests seeking a comfortable stay with modern amenities. Convenient for visits to Florida Gulf Coast University.
  • Additional Features: Features an on-site restaurant, fitness center, and business center. Guests appreciate the relaxing environment and helpful staff.
  • Check Rates

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Fort Myers Airport

  • Shuttle Service: Free airport shuttle available.
  • Suitability: Great for travelers needing a quick and easy commute to the airport. Suitable for both short stays and extended visits.
  • Additional Features: Offers a complimentary breakfast, outdoor pool, and fitness center. Known for its friendly staff and clean, spacious rooms.
  • Check Rates

Comparison Table of Hotels Closest to Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW)

Hotel NameDistance from AirportAverage RatingReview Highlights
Homewood Suites by Hilton Fort Myers Airport/FGCU3.3 miles4.5“Delightful time at our home away from home.”
Crowne Plaza Ft. Myers Gulf Coast, an IHG Hotel3.4 miles4.0“Great hotel close to the airport with a free shuttle. Very friendly and welcoming staff.”
Hampton Inn Ft. Myers-Airport I-753.0 miles4.5“Great location near airport and several restaurants.”
Days Inn & Suites by Wyndham Fort Myers Near JetBlue Park2.2 miles4.0“Recommend if you want a hotel outside the hustle and bustle or close to RSW.”
Hilton Garden Inn Fort Myers Airport/FGCU3.2 miles4.5“Come often for R & R. Nice area and hotel.”
La Quinta Inn and Suites Fort Myers I-752.8 miles4.0“Conveniently located near the airport and beach.”
Drury Inn & Suites Fort Myers Airport FGCU3.6 miles4.5“Always choose to stay here when in the area.”
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Ft Myers East- The Forum, an IHG Hotel6.1 miles4.0“Very nice place, warmly welcomed by the front desk.”
DoubleTree by Hilton Fort Myers at Bell Tower Shops7.1 miles4.0“Close to the airport, shops, and restaurants.”
Hampton Inn & Suites Fort Myers-Colonial Blvd.7.1 miles4.5“Great property about 25/30 minutes from RSW airport.”
This table provides an overview of the ten closest hotels to Southwest Florida International Airport, including their distance from the airport, average rating, and key highlights from guest reviews.

Final Word on Sleep at RSW Airport

Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) may lack sleeping pods, but travelers can still find several viable options for rest within the airport and at nearby hotels.

Within RSW, the most recommended sleeping spots include the landside areas near the ticket counters in Terminal 1, known for their darker and quieter environments. The outdoor gazebo near Concourse B offers a fresh-air alternative, while the business center in Terminal 1 provides a quieter setting with limited access.

For those in need of more comfort and privacy, nearby hotels such as the Crowne Plaza Ft. Myers Gulf Coast and the Hampton Inn Ft. Myers-Airport I-75 offer free airport shuttles and are perfect for various travel schedules.

The Hilton Garden Inn Fort Myers Airport/FGCU and the Days Inn & Suites by Wyndham Fort Myers Near JetBlue Park also provide complimentary shuttles, making them ideal for travelers with early morning departures or late-night arrivals. These hotels are known for their comfortable accommodations and close proximity to the airport, ensuring travelers can get a good rest before or after their flights.

FAQs

What time does RSW Open?

Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) operates 24 hours a day. However, the security checkpoints typically close after the last flight of the day, around 9 PM, and reopen early in the morning, around 4:00 AM. While the airport itself is always open, access to certain areas and services may be limited during overnight hours.

More Helpful Fort Myers Resources:

  1. Visit Fort Myers
  2. Fort Myers Web Cams
  3. RSW’s FAQ Page
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.