Travellers not the only ones sleeping in airports

Hotel News - 03/03/2008

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While travellers are usually more than happy to ditch the terminal building of any airport for a night in a comfortable airport hotel, recent court proceedings and statements from charities in the UK indicate that a number of homeless people are bedding down every night in Gatwick and Heathrow Airports.

An outreach project run by a charity known as Broadway, ran two sessions in Heathrow and counted 26 homeless people spending the night there. Four people have appeared before court this year and received asbos for using Gatwick as their home.

According to Gatwick operator BAA, anyone found to be spending the night in the airport would be moved.

A similar situation was recently portrayed in the movie ‘The Terminal’ but according to one 30-year-old man named Jason, who lived at Gatwick and Heathrow between 2003 and 2007, living at the airport is nothing like the movie.

"I recently took the time to see The Terminal and I think he had a pretty cushy kind of a deal,” Jason said. “It's nothing like that. You're constantly watching your back, trying not to step on anybody's toes, and at the same time making sure you've got everything you need to get by. I laugh now but at the time it was a matter of survival."

Last year, Jason spent nine and a half weeks in jail for being caught in the airport. . "I had nowhere to go," he said. "It was pretty cold and wet at the time and Heathrow was the first place that came to mind."

He said that after five months, his face became too well known around the airport, prompting him to move to Gatwick. He then switched between the two airports every few weeks.

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