December 06, 2016

21 ways to fill in time while waiting at an airport

Have you ever been bored at the airport while waiting for a flight?

If you're a regular traveller, the chances are you would have experienced a plane delay, or even worse a cancellation.

In Australia alone, nearly 20% of all flights fail to depart on time. And that is just the average, for some airlines the figure is over 30%.

Beyond just cancellations and delays, for those who travel internationally a long airport stopover is often unavoidable.

So whether you're waiting at the airport for a connection, or you're stuck there because of a delay, it's helpful to have things to do to save you from going insane.

Here's 21 fun things to do while waiting at an airport.

1. Plan your trip ahead

With a bit of extra time on your hands you can use it to plan the trip ahead.

Whether you're travelling for business or leisure, it's comforting knowing what's on the agenda and where you need to be each day.

Just about every airport in the world has Wi-Fi or internet kiosks, so you can make the most of them to plan sightseeing tours, decide on where you are going to stay, or pick your dinner spots of choice.

2. Shop

Shopping at the airport can be expensive, but there are usually a great variety of stores to browse. Even if you are just window shopping and decide not to buy anything, it is an interesting way to pass time.

But if you do have some money to spend, buy a gift for someone you plan on seeing during your trip. Or if you're heading back home, buy a gift for a loved one.

3. Get some food

It's not going to be the most exciting meal you will eat on your trip (we hope not at least), but the food court at an airport is one way to fill a gap. 

Here is a list of the 10 best airports for food if you're looking for some inspiration!

4. Make friends

Airports can often be a place to meet likeminded people that are also waiting for their plane. So if you're travelling alone, make an effort to connect with others who are in the same position, chat to them about their travels and share stories.

You might end up making a friend for life.

5. Surf social media

Sometimes social media can be all consuming and feel like a waste of time. But when you're waiting at the airport, it can act as your live entertainment.

Jump on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, LinkedIn... Whichever network keeps you interested for the longest period of time.

Facebook's newsfeed is packed full of weird, funny, interesting and inspiring video content.

Just like the addictive recipe videos that Cooking Panda release on their Facebook page:


6. Watch a movie on your laptop

With services such as Netflix and iTunes offering movies on-demand and on-the-go, you can watch a great flick just about anywhere. As long as you have your laptop or tablet.

You could even choose to watch something ironic like "The Terminal" with Tom Hanks.

7. Relax in a club lounge

If you travel regularly it may be worthwhile joining a rewards program that allows you access to their club lounge at the airport.

You can sit back and relax in comfortable chairs, get a nice platter of food, and forget that your flight was ever delayed in the first place!

8. Try to get an upgrade

Sometimes flights are under-booked, especially in business or first class. When this happens they may offer these extra seats to economy travellers on a random basis. 

So while you're waiting at the airport, why not ask if there are any upgrades available? You might be stuck now, but once you settle into your upgraded seat on the plane it will all be worth it.

9. Hire a bed

I'm sure you've felt like taking a nap while waiting for your delayed plane to board, but the normal airport chairs are seriously uncomfortable.

More and more airports are bringing in modern sleeping pods and designated sleeping zones that you can hire for a fee. If you want a quick nap to recharge, see if you can find one.

This article has a list of some of the best airport beds around the world.

If you're going to have a sleep at an airport, just make sure you keep your bag safe and close by.

10. Have a drink

Feeling stressed about waiting for your flight?

It's not for everyone, but for those of you who like a glass of wine or a beer every now and then, have a drink to relax and fill in some time before your flight boards.

11. People watch

Airports attract all types of people, and it can be quite entertaining if you just sit back and observe.

Watch what people are doing, how they interact, what clothes they are wearing... or maybe look to see what everyone else is doing to fill in time, it might give you some ideas.

12. Get your shoes shined

Shoe shining stands are quite common at major airports, especially when they are situated in cities with big business hubs.

Perhaps you've got a big meeting on after your flight, or you're trying to impress a new employer, or a first date. Get your shoes shined to fill in some time and sharpen up the way you look.

13. Play games on your smart phone

There are a LOT of extremely addictive games available from  the Google Play and iTunes stores. Start getting into a game like Angry Birds or Bejewelled and before you know it your flight will be ready to take off.

14. Write a diary entry (or a blog post)

Do you like writing?

Keeping a diary on your travels, or sharing your experience through a blog is a great way to capture memories.

One day you will look back at your scribbles and be transported back in time to that exact moment. All the fear, anxiety, excitement, and exhilaration will all come rushing back. 

Use your airport waiting time to keep track of your journey.

15. Reply to emails

It's kind of boring, but replying to emails is a necessary evil we all need to face. Overloaded inboxes have a way of taking over our lives at times, and it can create anxiety and stress while travelling.

So if you have a few spare minutes at the airport, use that time to clear out your inbox and de-clutter the mind.

16. Play cards

Pack a deck of playing cards, or buy one at the airport and fill in some time by playing single player card games like solitaire.

They are not only great for making that dreaded wait go faster, but they also get your brain thinking.

17. Listen to music

There's nothing like your favourite playlist to help you enjoy a bit of alone time at the airport.

Be prepared by loading up different playlists onto your smart phone, or sign up for a service like Spotify, and sing along to your favourite songs in your head while you wait.

18. Take a walk

Airports are usually big, often with many terminals, shops and areas to check out. If you have some time to kill, think about going for a walk and seeing what else is around. You never know what you might find.

19. Read a book (or magazine)

Sometimes it's hard to find the time to get a good reading session in and immerse yourself in a novel, book or your favourite magazine.

Waiting at the airport is the perfect opportunity to switch off your brain from all other surroundings and lock into a story.

20. Get a massage

Travelling can take a toll on your body. Whether you've been out hiking, or just cooped up in a plane seat for 6 hours, your body often needs a release.

Look for a place to get a massage and release the tension in your muscles, ready for the next part of your trip.

21. Call a loved one

Keeping your loved ones informed about your adventures is a great way to share your experience. But it's also a great way to stay safe, so that someone at home is always aware of your plans.

Make the most of your spare time at the airport to connect with people back home.


Waiting for hours at an airport can be frustrating, especially if you're already tired and stressed as it is.

But with a little bit of creativity you can turn that dead time into some fun. These 21 tips are a great place to start.

What other things have you done to fill in time while waiting at an airport?

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